Sexual Preference Defers Blood Donations For Life - 47 ABC - Delmarva's Choice

Sexual Preference Defers Blood Donations For Life

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WMDT 47 News- Sal Seely learned 10 years ago that he would never be able to donate blood - due to his sexual preference.

Under current FDA law, any man who has had sex with another man (MSM) since 1977, has a lifetime deferral from donating blood due to a higher risk of becoming infected with HIV. The scientific research given by the FDA shows that while the MSM community represents only 2% of the U-S population, they are the most severely infected with the virus, accounting for 61% of all new cases in 2010.

Sal says, being turned away because of his sexual preference makes him and men like him sound dirty and puts a stigma on them. He says, "if I'm healthy and I'm in a monogamous relationship where my partner and I don't have sex with other people, than I should be able to do that, as my straight counterparts are able to do that."

MSM are not the only people who have life deferrals from donating blood. People who have used IV's or taken money or drugs for sex also have life deferrals. However, anyone who has sex with these people are only on a 12 month deferral period from donating.

Margaret Hannon, who has worked for the Blood Bank of Delmarva for the past 27 years, says the number one priority is to keep donors and recipients safe. The 51 question prescreening process already eliminates 65 percent of the U-S population from donating for many reasons. But of the 35% who can donate, only 4-5% actually will.

The American Red Cross, American Association of Blood Banks, and America's Blood Centers have all spoken out to the FDA in a request to lower the MSM referral period to 12 months. So the question remains, whether the current questionnaire is strong enough in its current condition, or whether changes should be made. Margaret Hannan says, "If the scientific data proves that reducing the deferral period would not increase risk to the blood supply, absolutely then we should do it."

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