Wednesday, July 27, 2011

HHS to re-examine policy on blood donations from gay men.

The blurb below was taken from the AMA Morning Rounds email newsletter distributed this morning, July 27th.  This was a policy issue discussed by the MSS at a recent meeting.  See the article for an indication of progress by HHS on the issue of blood donations in MSM.

HHS to re-examine policy on blood donations from gay men.

The National Journal (7/27, Fox, Subscription Publication) reports, "A policy that bars gay men from donating blood for life is 'suboptimal,' advisers to the Health and Human Services Department said on Tuesday, and needs another look." The department had "asked a committee of experts on blood and tissue donations to reexamine the policy and see if there is a way to let at least some gays donate blood." As it stands, the FDA "has banned blood donation by any man who has had homosexual sex because of the risk of the AIDS virus," although "the Red Cross, always struggling with blood shortages, and other groups such as gay-rights organizations oppose the blanket policy."
        CQ (7/27, Bunis, Subscription Publication) reports that last year, Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) and Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL) had asked HHS to re-examine the FDA policy on blood donations. In response to the announcement that HHS is taking steps to do that, Kerry said, "We've been working on this a long time in a serious way, and I'm glad Secretary [Kathleen] Sebelius responded with concrete steps to finally remove this policy from the books. ... HHS is doing their due diligence, and we plan to stay focused on the endgame: a safe blood supply and an end to this discriminatory ban." Meanwhile, HHS stated that it "is committed to continuously improving the safety and availability of the nation's blood supply, and" plans "to re-evaluate this policy as new scientific data emerges."
        The Boston Business Journal (7/27, Donnelly, Subscription Publication) says in "The Bottom Line" blog that HHS still has to conduct various tests before a decision can be made regarding the policy, and it is unclear at this point "what the timeline is for HHS to conduct these studies."

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