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Although this policy was created in the early years of the epidemic, when little was known about HIV, the current policy fails to maximize blood safety and excludes many potential gay and bisexual male donors who are at low-risk for HIV. The reports here document the efforts made to revise deferral policies and what actions are currently being taken to develop a safe and effective blood donation policy.
HHS response to ACBSA recommendations (7/22/11) PDF
After the ACBSA determined that current deferral policies are suboptimal, members of the Department of HHS were charged with developing a comprehensive plan to carry out the committee’s recommendations. Released in July 2011, HHS reports on what actions are being taken with regard to the blood ban, what additional studies are needed, and what HHS has accomplished at this point in time.
Joint Letter to Senator Harkin (6/8/11) PDF
In June 2011, GMHC and several leading LGBT, HIV, and hemophilia organizations issued a joint statement encouraging the Labor Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee to include in its FY 2012 report a recommendation to the Secretary of HHS to move forward with the ACBSA’s research recommendations.
Letter to Dr. Sanchez of CUNY re: boycotting of blood drives (4/29/11) PDF
Although GMHC opposes the permanent deferral of MSM from donating blood, we do not support boycotting blood drives on university campuses, places of employment, or elsewhere. The nation continually faces shortages in the blood supply and boycotting blood drives is counterproductive as a public health measure. We alternatively support creative measures to increase awareness about the blood ban while promoting blood donations.
Revising Blood Donation Guidelines: January 2011 (1/11) PDF
This report provides an overview of developments in reform of current blood donation guidelines. In response to the ACBSA’s call for further research, the federal government has assembled a working group to carry out the committee’s recommendations. Moving forward, GMHC is actively involved to increase awareness and to help identify a subset of MSM who are at low-risk for HIV to become blood donors.
ACBSA recommendations (6/11/10) PDF
After review of current blood donation policies, the ACBSA determined that current donor deferral policies are suboptimal. However, the ACBSA also voted 9 to 6 against recommending a change to the current policy, citing that the available scientific data are inadequate to revise the blood ban. In order to explore alternative policies, the ACBSA called for additional research in several key areas.
Advisory Committee on Blood Safety and Availability (6/10/10) PDF
Sean Cahill and Nathan Schaefer, of GMHC, presented at the U.S. Health and Human Services ACBSA meeting to review current blood donation policies. The presentation emphasized the need to seek alternative MSM donor policies while maintaining the safety of the blood supply. A review of the current literature looks at the risks and benefits of alternative blood donation policies that allow MSM blood donors, which may serve as a model for change.
Organization Endorsement Letter (5/21/10) PDF
In response to the announcement that the Advisory Committee on Blood Safety and Availability (ACBSA) would review the FDA’s ban on MSM blood donors, several leading HIV/AIDS service organizations, human rights advocacy groups, and national hemophilia organizations expressed their mutual support for the review of current blood donor eligibility guidelines.
A Drive for Change Report(2/10) PDF
In 2010, GMHC released a comprehensive report on U.S. blood donation policies, which provides an in-depth analysis of the current policy, which permanently defers MSM from donating blood. The report examines the essential elements of a safe and effective blood donation policy, how U.S. policies compare to international policies, and looks at potential behavior-based alternatives that allow MSM donors.
Congressional Support for Reform: 18 Senators Letter (3/4/10) PDF
Recognizing the need to reform outdated blood donation policies, Senator Kerry and 17 other U.S. Senators wrote to the FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, encouraging the FDA to review outdated blood donation policies.
Advisory Committee on Blood Safety and Availability Meeting
Nathan Schaefer of GMHC and Sean Cahill (formerly of GMHC) provide testimony at the Advisory Committee on Blood Safety and Availability Meeting on June 11, 2010. Click here to view the video.