Before blood and plasma donation centers began testing all blood and plasma donations for STIs and other diseases, HIV/AIDS was a serious concern for blood donations. A once-misunderstood disease led to a ban on homosexuals from offering to help those in need by way of blood or plasma donation beginning in 1983. Today, all donations are thoroughly tested only AFTER a thorough questionnaire that addresses dangerous issues like the donors' recent foreign travels, etc. The questionnaire also asks if the male donor has "had sexual contact with another male, even once, since 1977." In a May 2007 Associated Press (AP) article, the FDA is quoted stating that "HIV tests currently in use are highly accurate." There is absolutely no reason that this outdated ban should continue to be in place. Perhaps the FDA should consider a fixed-time deferral, in which the male donor must wait a period of time after sexual contact with another male before donating. This way, tests are more likely to identify HIV-positive donors (tests identify HIV-positive donors 10-21 days after infection, according to the AP), and the FDA no longer turns away potentially healthy donors. The effectiveness of a fixed-time deferral has been proven effective in other countries, such as Australia, where the American Association of Blood Banks (AABB) has cited that "no evidence of a significantly increased risk of transfusion-transmitted human immunodeficiency virus infection in Australia subsequent to implementing a 12-month deferral for men who have had sex with men." Several other developed countries such as New Zealand, Argentina, Brazil, Hungary, Japan, Sweden, South Africa and the UK currently have fixed-time deferrals in effect, while Germany, Italy, Poland, and Spain have overturned their previous deferral policy, no longer deferring such donors. Government committees and councils across the US have called for the FDA's further review of this policy for a potential overturn, but to no avail. If our nation comes together for a fight, we can make a change. The AP article can be found here: http://on.msnbc.com/yEAccC
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