Just noticed this, dated March 13, and had previously heard nothing about it. Perhaps it's not a Big Fucking Deal like gay marriage, but I think that this is worth noticing, if not taking action. Government policy officially treats gay men as a disease risk, and if you think something should be done about it, follow me over the Mark of the Great Orange Beast.
From the Federal Register via Cryptome:
SUMMARY: The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is seekingI told my friend the other day that I had donated blood. She remarked that that meant I hadn't had sex with another man since 1977. This line of conversation became a bit more personal than I am generally comfortable with, but I suppose there are things more uncomfortable.
to identify interest and obtain information relevant to the design of a
pilot operational study (or studies) on alternative donor deferral
criteria that would permit blood and plasma donations (subsequently
termed ``blood donations'') by men who have had sex with other men
Based upon documented higher levels of certain transfusion-
transmissible infections (e.g. Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and
Hepatitis B Virus (HBV)) in some groups of men who have had sex with
men, all men with a history of this behavior since 1977 are currently
deferred from donating blood.
Like the government labeling me a public health threat.
However, the increased effectiveness ofOk, so the only comments that HHS particularly cares about here will come from the Red Cross, other blood banks, and health care providers that use donated blood.
donor testing for HIV, HBV, syphilis and other infectious agents has
greatly enhanced blood safety. As a result, questions have been raised
about the need to continue an indefinite deferral of all MSM and
whether there could be blood donation by MSM who may not be at
increased risk. In June 2010, HHS sought advice from its Advisory
Committee for Blood Safety and Availability (ACBSA) on the issue of the
current MSM deferral policy. The Advisory Committee noted that the
existing policy is suboptimal, but recommended that the policy should
be retained pending the completion of targeted research studies that
might support a safe alternative policy.
This RFI seeks information from interested parties regarding the
design, logistics and feasibility of a pilot operational study (or
studies) to assess alternative blood donor eligibility criteria for
MSM. Responses to this RFI will inform HHS on the design, logistics and
feasibility of such a study, which, if feasible, could result in
identifying potential pathways toward future alternate policies that
will maintain or enhance the current very high levels of blood safety.
The concept is to conduct a pilot operational study, in which MSM who
meet specified criteria would be permitted to donate blood, with additional safeguards in place to protect blood recipients during the course of the study. Data would be
gathered to assess the effectiveness of the specified criteria to
select low risk donors among MSM. Upon completing all data collection
activities, there will be a transparent and evidence-based evaluation
of current and possible future MSM blood donation policies.
DATES: All responses must be received no later than 4 p.m. EDT on June
11, 2012 at the address listed below.
So here's the nitty gritty::
HHS is interested in obtaining information about the design,This doesn't sound very progressive, but maybe you know a "stakeholder" near you that might give them some better ideas.
logistics and feasibility of a pilot operational study to assess
alternative blood donor acceptance criteria for MSM. Specifically, HHS
requests information from private and public sector stakeholders
regarding potential pilot operational study designs, including
innovative and cost effective approaches to evaluate alternative blood
donor acceptance criteria for MSM.
Input is requested for the following:
(1) Candidate acceptance criteria for a pilot operational study
that would permit blood donation by MSM. For example, MSM with one year
or five years of abstinence from sex with other men, or other criteria,
subject to study designs with additional safeguards.
(2) Possible study designs that would generate useful information
regarding the safety of candidate acceptance criteria while maintaining
current levels of blood safety during the pilot study. Possibilities
might include but are not limited to the following:(snip)
(3) Input is requested on the data that should be gathered and the
criteria used to evaluate the results of the pilot operational study.
For example, should MSM donors and non-MSM donors be asked to
participate in surveys on their understanding of the donor screening
questions, their specific sexual behaviors and their motivations to
donate blood? Should the study outcome be based on observed markers of
transfusion-transmitted infections in MSM donors compared with other
donors? Should MSM donors with positive screening tests be interviewed
to better understand their risk factors, their understanding of the
donor questionnaire and their motivations to donate if they did not
appropriately self-defer or disclose their risk?
Requested RFI Responses:
Please comment on each of the above scenarios, or propose
additional pilot operational study designs for consideration. In your
response, please address each of the following:
Revised criteria that should be considered to permit blood
donation by MSM
Blood safety considerations and safety mitigations that should
Impact on blood establishment operations
Staff training and staff perceptions
Tracking of pre-donation and/or post- donation test results
Donor perceptions regarding the possible changes in deferral
policy within the operational study scenarios (including both MSM and
Public reaction, if any, and impact on blood drives
Potential venues where the study could be conducted
Willingness of blood organizations to participate in a pilot
Data elements that should be gathered during the study,
including those that may be associated with future emerging infections
Criteria for evaluation of the study results and conclusions
Expected timeframe for each proposed study.