Wednesday, July 27, 2011

HHS Begins Revising Blood Donation Policies

I have become something of an irritant to Red Cross canvassers in downtown Seattle.  You can't go anywhere without them or Planned Parenthood hitting you up for cash, and while they're great organizations, they can be a real pain.  The poor guys who raise money for the Red Cross, however, are starting to learn to avoid me.  "Hi!  Can I talk to you for a minute?"  Cue Ian's finger-waving: "If you accepted my blood, I would consider donating to your organization!"

This is a bit of a douchebag move on my part.  I obviously cannot donate blood because I am HIV positive, and it's not necessarily the Red Cross' fault that the US Department of Health and Human Services bans men who have sex with men (MSM) from giving blood products.  It makes for interesting sidewalk discussions, though.

Those canvassers may have a reprieve from my one-man terror crusade, though, as the HHS has decided to study the issue further and consider revision of the rules to allow MSM to donate.  From the Gay Men's Health Crisis:

 Gay Men's Health Crisis (GMHC) and the World Federation of Hemophilia laud the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for outlining concrete steps toward review of the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) permanent deferral on blood donation by gay and bisexual men.  In a question-and-answer document, HHS described four areas of necessary study to allow a further review of the existing policy, and implementation of the June 2010 recommendations from the Advisory Committee on Blood Safety and Availability (ACBSA). These areas include:
  • How the risk of blood transmissible diseases in the current donor population relate to the risk factors in donors; 
  • The root cause of quarantine release errors (QRE), the accidental release of blood not cleared for use that potentially put the blood supply at risk; 
  • If potential donors correctly understand the current questionnaire and if men who have sex with men (MSM) would comply with modified deferral criteria; and
  • If alternative screening strategy (e.g. pre- and/or post-qualifying donation infectious disease testing) for MSM (and potentially other high-risk donors) would assure blood safety while enabling data collection that could demonstrate safe blood collection from a subset of MSM or other currently deferred donors.

Well, it looks like I might have to revert to "I'm just really broke guys, sorry."

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