Are blood donation restrictions outdated? Resolution aims to adjust requirements

Bennett Johnson donates blood on the ARUP blood drive held on the Senate constructing on the state Captiol on Monday. (Paul Nelson, KSL NewsRadio)

Estimated learn time: 4-5 minutes

SALT LAKE CITY — A joint decision on the Utah Legislature urges the federal Meals and Drug Administration to vary “outdated and discriminatory protocols” for blood donation relating to homosexual and bisexual males.

SJR11 was launched Monday by state Sen. Derek Kitchen, D-Salt Lake Metropolis, and was highlighted by the senator throughout a blood drive held on the Capitol for “all blood donors.” The drive was organized by Kitchen to assist tackle ongoing nationwide blood shortages.

In January, the American Pink Cross declared the first-ever blood disaster and urged all Individuals to donate to assist enhance provide to fight the “worst blood provide scarcity in over a decade.”

However some Individuals who’re prepared to reply the decision and roll up their sleeves might face obstacles in doing so. Zachary Marks expressed frustration on the obstacles he confronted in his need to assist.

“It is simply actually discouraging when it is one thing that I wish to do. My physique makes blood, wholesome blood, and I need to have the ability to give it to different folks. And I can not simply due to like one particular label,” Marks mentioned Monday.

“The wholesome habits that individuals can have do not matter when it is, like, you mark a field that you just’re homosexual, after which abruptly it is such as you can’t donate in any respect,” he added.

The FDA’s present blood donation pointers require homosexual or bisexual males to abstain from sexual exercise for 3 months previous to donating blood.

“We want blood, and homosexual males wish to take part,” Kitchen mentioned. “Homosexual males wish to be part of the answer, and there is numerous homosexual folks within the state of Utah that wish to assist us with our blood scarcity. So, I feel it is time for us to raise that ban.”

The ban on homosexual and bisexual males donating blood was imposed in 1983 by the company through the early years of the HIV epidemic. The ban was lifted in 2015 and amended to permit donations after abstaining from sexual exercise for a 12 months — which was later adjusted in 2020 to the present three-month interval amid rising stress and a nationwide scarcity of blood donations.

“On the FDA, we wish to do every little thing we are able to to encourage extra blood donations, which incorporates revisiting and updating a few of our present insurance policies to assist guarantee now we have an ample blood provide whereas nonetheless defending the security of our nation’s blood provide,” Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Middle for Biologics Analysis and Analysis, wrote of the change.

The administration said that the amended coverage would stay in place after the COVID-19 pandemic, however advocates are calling for a whole change. The American Medical American Affiliation argued that the coverage “singles out and bans blood donors based mostly on their inherent attributes fairly than the danger components they current.”

The affiliation added that each one blood is examined and donors might be screened. Others argue that the screening course of might not flag all contaminated folks. Blood exams can stay destructive for a interval of seven to 10 days after somebody has been contaminated, in keeping with the American Pink Cross.

The coverage is a “holdover from the AIDS disaster” and creates a stigma for homosexual and bisexual males, Kitchen mentioned, including that individuals, irrespective of their sexual orientation, can contract the virus.

The decision goals to acknowledge “that outdated and discriminatory protocols of the previous are contributing to the present disaster within the nation’s blood provide and urges the federal authorities to pursue with renewed vigor alternative of the explicit, time-based exclusion of homosexual and bisexual males as blood.”

If handed, the decision presents a possibility for Utah to steer out on the difficulty.

“Utah is a very distinctive place as a result of we have, you understand, we have overcome numerous obstacles with regard to our spiritual group and our LGBTQ group, and we have come a good distance,” Kitchen mentioned.

“It is our job as state lawmakers and legislators to give attention to good well being coverage. And on the finish of the day, this decision helps scale back the stigma that homosexual males carry in the case of their participation in well being care,” he mentioned. “We now have numerous training and a protracted street to go, however with this decision now we have a possibility to start to cut back that stigma which simply merely is not true.”

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