(by Bob Unruh, WND) -- Federal advisory board officials this week are considering whether or not to recommend to the full Food and Drug Administration a change in policy that would allow some homosexual men to donate blood.
It would be a reversal of a policy that has been in effect for the last three decades because of the risk of HIV or AIDS.
The proposal comes even asthe FDA itself notes that the incidence of HIV infection is rising in that segment of the population.
“The HIV Incidence report recently published by CDC shows that, while the incidence of new HIV infection in most U.S. general population subsets (such as females) is stable or falling each year, the incidence of new HIV infection among MSM [men who have sex with men] has been rising. Comparing 2008 to 2010, the number of new HIV infections among MSM increased 12 percent, with a 22 percent increase among MSM aged 13-24. Although MSM represent about 7 percent of the male population in the United States, in 2010 MSM accounted for 78 percent of the new HIV infections among males,” the FDA’s website explains.
The proposal to allow some homosexuals to donate blood was endorsed by a Department of Health and Human Services blood safety advisory panel in a 16-2 vote last month.
The Advisory Committee on Blood and Tissue Safety and Availability urged the FDA to change the policy to allow men who have sex with men to donate blood if they say they have had no sexual contact with a man for one year.
The recommendation was put before another FDA panel, the Blood Products Advisory Committee, on Tuesday, although there’s no indication when a decision would be made on what to recommend to the FDA.
But one critic of the proposed change spoke to the committee.
Peter Sprigg, a senior fellow for policy studies at the Family Research Council, urged the committee not to recommend a change.
“I urge you to oppose any change in the current lifetime deferral as blood donors of men who have had sex with men, unless it can be scientifically proven that a revised policy would result in no increase in risk to the blood supply. Even a small increase in risk is unacceptable,” he said.
He noted what the Centers for Disease Control reported only months ago: “Gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men represent approximately 2 percent of the United States population, yet … (i)n 2010, gay and bisexual men accounted for 63 percent of estimated new HIV infections in the United States and 78 percent of infections among all newly infected men.”
Sprigg noted the FDA website says a revised policy would have to identify a subset of homosexuals “who do not still have a substantially increased rate of HIV infection compared to the general population or currently accepted blood donors.”
He said the “very small size of this population means that any potential benefit to the quantity of blood supplies would be marginal.”
“Claims, like that of one group, that such a policy change ‘could be used to help save the lives of more than 1.8 million people’ give the impression that currently 1.8 million Americans per year die due to the current policy. This is completely false,” Sprigg said.
“Political and social considerations should play no role in your advice or decision-making on this issue. It should instead be based first, last, and only upon your obligation to maximize the protection of public health,” Sprigg concluded.