FDA Updates Rules for Blood Donations

(RightWing.org) – On September 20, the American Red Cross sent out an urgent request for people to donate their blood, citing a continuing shortage and a critically low supply on hand. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been working for the past several years on new regulations that it believes could help to put a dent in the problem.

It Takes All Kinds

Under the new policy, which took effect in August, all donors will be asked the same risk-assessment questions, “regardless of sexual orientation, sex, or gender.” The rewrite is a move away from automatic “time-based deferrals” for certain groups which some have seen as overly prejudicial.

Previous iterations of the guidelines have been modified over the years since the first reported case of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) in the United States in 1981. In 1984, 13-year-old Ryan White of Kokomo, Indiana, contracted the disease via a blood transfusion and became internationally known as the face of the fight to educate the world.

After White died in 1990, his funeral was a star-studded event attended by the musicians Sir Elton John and the “King of Pop” Michael Jackson along with then-First Lady Barbara Bush and future President Donald Trump. In 1992, the FDA effectively pronounced a lifetime ban preventing MSM (men who have sex with men) from donating blood. It was revised in 2015 to a period of one year after their last intimate relationship.

Now, instead of focusing on a single high-risk group, the questionnaire will seek to create a safer blood supply by screening for more than just human immunodeficiency virus (HIV/the cause of AIDS), which will hopefully lead to more donations. Some of the questions involved on the newest donor health questionnaire (DHQ 4.0) include:

Within the preceding three months has the donorĀ 

  • Had new and/or multiple sexual partners that have included anal sex (a far more likely mode of transmission than vaginal or oral).
  • Worked as a prostitute.
  • Used needles to inject drugs/medicines not prescribed by a doctor.

Other disqualifications asked about include having been incarcerated (both juvenile and adult) for 72 hours or more consecutively, or ever having had Ebola. Those taking FDA-approved drugs that act as prophylactics that make HIV undetectable in one’s blood for purposes of intimate relationships are still not allowed because “a transfusion involves a large volume of blood compared to exposure with sexual contact,” per the FDA press release.

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