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Shooting response raises blood ban concerns

Shooting Response Raises Blood Ban Concerns

Shooting Raises Blood Ban Concerns

Shooting Raises Blood Ban Concerns

SALISBURY, Md. - Consider two hypothetical blood donors, one of whom is barred from donating by federal guidelines:


Person A is a 45-year-old married man who has had sex only with his spouse in the past five years.
Person B is a 45-year-old single man who has had unprotected sex with multiple anonymous partners in the past five years.

Person A cannot donate blood because the person he's in a monogamous marriage with is his husband.

Since Person B has sex with women, he's not excluded.

FDA recommendations updated in 2015 call for a "12 month deferral" for any man who has had sex with another man during the past 12 months – which effectively means gay and bisexual men can donate blood, but only if they've put their sex lives on hold for a year first.

It may sound harsh. But it's actually more inclusive than it used to be.

Until last year, it was a lifetime ban on donating blood for any man who had sex with another man. That ban was in place since 1985, in the midst of the AIDS crisis, but before advanced testing for HIV existed.

The ban was widely opposed on the grounds that it wasn't supported by evidence.

"It's not like only gay people can get STI's or be sick in general. Straight people can be sick in every way that a gay man can," says Millsboro resident Nevin Bennetch.
Bennetch opposes bans on blood donations from gay and bisexual men. A gay man himself, he sides with the American Red Cross, the American Association of Blood Banks, and the American Medical Association, whose efforts pushed the FDA into lifting the lifetime ban last year.

To residents like David and Jeanette Ryan, it's not about who's donating the blood, just that it's being tested.

Anybody could have something unhealthy going on in their bodies. So, all blood should be tested to make sure it's safe but other than that, it [sexual orientation] shouldn't matter," David Ryan told 47 ABC.
What matters to many gay and bisexual men right now, after an Orlando LGBT nightclub became the setting for country's deadliest mass shooting, is that they want to donate blood, but only can if they remain celibate for a year.

The situation leaves Nevin Bennetch asking, "I think if we are willing to give our blood to help save someone's life, why shouldn't we be able to do that?"


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