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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 seeking
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.
I 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.

Like the government labeling me a public health threat.

However, the increased effectiveness of
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.
Ok, 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.  

So here's the nitty gritty::

HHS is interested in obtaining information about the design,
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
be considered
 Impact on blood establishment operations
 Staff training and staff perceptions
 Tracking of pre-donation and/or post- donation test results
 Inventory management
 Donor perceptions regarding the possible changes in deferral
policy within the operational study scenarios (including both MSM and
non-MSM donors)
 Public reaction, if any, and impact on blood drives
 Potential venues where the study could be conducted
 Study costs
 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.

This doesn't sound very progressive, but maybe you know a "stakeholder" near you that might give them some better ideas.
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Comment Preferences

  •  I've been meaning to write (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lorikeet, where4art, rscopes, claytonben

    a diary about feeding the effing vampires, but this isn't it.

    Ask your barista what her degree is in.

    by happymisanthropy on Thu Mar 22, 2012 at 05:48:12 PM PDT

  •  Oh happy day! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    ...for those of us, among others, who have required periodic, massive blood infusions (since it means an increase in the blood supply) on top of the civil liberties this underscores.  :-)

    "For what profit a man, if he gain the world, but has to pay taxes on it?" -ontheleftcoast, The Book of Paul

    by MsGrin on Thu Mar 22, 2012 at 07:04:03 PM PDT

  •  When I go to give blood (0+ / 0-)

    I figure all those sex questions are none of their GD business, so I just give the answers they want. The blood pool is filtered anyway, so those questions are just homophobia now. Screw 'em. If they want my blood, they can take it or leave it. And I have B- blood - rare and valuable.

    •  WTF! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      you just lie?  I cannot donate any longer because I lived in Europe for too long, and the first time I was turned away was excruciatingly embarrassing.  But it never occurred to me to just LIE, and endanger the blood supply.  And I'm O positive, the universal donor.

      It appalls me that you would do this.  And that you would so callously sneer about it.

      •  ...on the other hand... (0+ / 0-)

        I've never asked a sex partner if she's ever had sex for money, so in a sense I'm lying too.

        Ask your barista what her degree is in.

        by happymisanthropy on Thu Mar 22, 2012 at 10:16:02 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  It's not dangerous (0+ / 0-)

        The blood supply is tested, so no AIDS could get through anyway. And I don't have AIDS, and as far as I know (I haven't asked my partners) none of them has taken drugs intravenously, or had sex for money, or had sex with another man. I don't know and I don't want to know. But it doesn't matter anyway - the blood is tested. Nothing can get through.

        Yeah, I sneer. It's nothing more than homophobia.

        LANDSLIDE bitches!

        by pucklady on Thu Mar 22, 2012 at 10:21:01 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  do you have an authoritative medical link (0+ / 0-)

          That shows the testing of the blood is 100% effective.

          Issues such as this should be decided 100% on well established and thorough medical science.  The politics and other related issues is a dangerous distraction.

          The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

          by nextstep on Fri Mar 23, 2012 at 07:31:16 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Amen, Brother (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    "I suppose there are things more uncomfortable.
    Like the government labeling me a public health threat."

  •  Good News. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

      While a certain population will whine, big time, this is good news to the blood banking industry.  The testing technology, including sensitivity and selectivity have improved significantly over the years.  
        But hey, some are still complaining about their inability to know the genetic background of the blood donor!  

  •  I'd like to point out that GMHC and other LGBT (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    organizations have been working with Hemophilia Groups to encourage better research and understanding.

    See Revising Blood donor guidelines at GMHC here (it's a PDF

    They have also been promoting Bad Blood

    which is a documentary about compromised blood supply and what is being done.

    .In 1999, Matthew Kleiner, a childhood friend, suggested that I make a film about how he and 70% of the hemophiliacs in the U.S. had been infected with HIV, and 100% with hepatitis, from the FDA-approved medication on which they were dependent.

    As I spoke with Matt I came to understand what he had long understood.  This was not just the story of the greatest medical disaster in U.S. history – one that would cost 10,000 lives – but a cautionary tale that has continued to play out in news stories about Vioxx and more recently, Avandia, drugs whose dangers come to light long after they’ve been marketed to consumers.

    And so began a ten-year journey to craft a film that sought to alert people to the ongoing issues this crisis raised:  Was the FDA too closely aligned to the pharmaceutical industry to effectively regulate medicines? Was the argument that pharmaceutical companies needed to be profitable in order to research and develop new treatments sufficient to justify the ways in which they made (and continue to make) cost-cutting decisions affecting patient safety – particularly when patients have no alternative treatment?

    Matt’s story also offers a new and important lens through which to view the HIV/AIDS crisis. Entirely dependent on medicine derived from donated human blood, hemophiliacs are the canaries in our public health system: their safety is our safety. Failure to adequately patrol the collection and processing of blood had dire consequences in the 1980s and 1990s. The blood supply is today free of both HIV and hepatitis, but how prepared are we to identify and stop the next source of infection?

    Many of you may not be aware of the crisis in Canada (its gov has paid reparations

    I worked as an AIDS researcher for years.  
    I have interviewed people who sell blood some of whom were gay IVDUs.

    This is an old article from NYT
    Drug Abusers Still Sell Blood Plasma, Study Finds

    Do a google search for plasma collection for profit - there are over 400 centers that pay for plasma.

    Single Donor Components Since 1985

    Transmission of HIV by transfusion has become rare in developed countries since the initiation of voluntary deferral of donors at risk for HIV infection and routine HIV antibody testing of all donations. Continued improvement in donor recruitment practices, donor education, donor screening, and blood testing has resulted in continued decreases in the risk of transfusion transmission of HIV. In 1995, the risk in the United States of HIV-1 transmission per unit transfused was estimated to be between 1 in 450,000 and 1 in 660,000.(23,24) By 2003, this estimated risk had decreased to between 1 in 1.4 million and 1 in 1.8 million units.(25,26)

    HIV antibody tests fail to identify HIV-infected blood donated by HIV-infected persons who have not yet seroconverted. Exclusion of donors is voluntary. Interviews with HIV antibody-positive donors reveal that most recognize their risk but fail to exclude themselves.(27) As a result, laboratory efforts to eliminate HIV-infected donors have continued and testing has improved. Currently, HIV antibody tests detect both HIV-1 and HIV-2 and detect antibody approximately 22 days (the "window period") after the viremic phase of HIV infection begins. Antigen testing for p24, mandated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1996, shortened the window period to approximately 16 days. The nucleic acid amplification test (NAT), which detects HIV-1 RNA in minipools (16-24 donation samples/pool), was introduced in the United States in 1999 and further reduces the window period of potential HIV transmission to 11 days.(25,26) As of early 2003, three transfusion recipients are known to have become HIV infected by transfusion of HIV antibody-negative, p24 antigen-negative, and HIV NAT-negative blood from two different blood donors (among 25 million donations).(28)

    The global perspective is not so bright as that described for resource-rich countries. Worldwide, 75 million units of blood are estimated to be donated annually, compared with 13 million donations in the United States. Of the 191 WHO member states, only 43% test blood for HIV, hepatitis C, and hepatitis B viruses. Transfusion-transmitted HIV infection is thought to account for 80,000-160,000 infections annually, contributing 2-4% of all cases of HIV transmission.(25,29,30) Only 20% of the world's supply of safe blood is available to countries with 80% of the world's population.

    Identification of risk factors is part of the blood donation screening process.

    FFDA to Revisit Gay Blood Donations Policyations Policy

    LA Times

    Pro/Con: Two views of U.S. prohibiting gay men's blood donation

    This is not a simple issue.  Should restrictions be relaxed - yes.

    Should pre-donation screening include questions about sexual activity/risk behavior - including MSM, IVDU and tattooing...and heterosexual risks as well.

    I say yes.

    The parameters of those questions are as yet to be determined.

    Is this discrimination against MSM's? Or homophobia?  
    Other high groups considered to be at risk have raised  these issues.  Haitians were at one time stigmatized.

    The link in this diary is for a pilot study.  This is a response to continued pressure for revisions.

    Should revisions be made without study?

    Some groups say yes, others no.

    You think about it.

    "If you're in a coalition and you're comfortable, you know it's not a broad enough coalition" Bernice Johnson Reagon

    by Denise Oliver Velez on Fri Mar 23, 2012 at 06:06:29 AM PDT

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