Seattle Residents Criticize Exclusive Blood Donor Policies

Prospective blood donors are accusing blood banks in the Seattle area of discriminatory regulations that bar most gay and bisexual men from giving blood, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported Tuesday. After the Puget Sound Blood Center announced last week that western Washington’s blood reserves were at emergency levels, some residents voiced frustration at policies that turn away about 6% of those who volunteer to donate blood. About 24,000 people have been placed on the region’s permanent deferral list based on answers to screening questions, according to the center, and men who have had sexual contact with another man since 1977 are automatically rejected.

BY admin

January 25 2008 1:00 AM ET

Prospective blood
donors are accusing blood banks in the Seattle area of
discriminatory regulations that bar most gay and bisexual
men from giving blood, the Seattle
Post-Intelligencer
reported Tuesday.

After the Puget
Sound Blood Center announced last week that western
Washington’s blood reserves were at emergency levels,
some residents voiced frustration at policies that
turn away about 6% of those who volunteer to donate
blood. About 24,000 people have been placed on the
region’s permanent deferral list based on answers to
screening questions, according to the center, and men
who have had sexual contact with another man since
1977 are automatically rejected.

“It upsets
me when I see signs that say ‘We need blood, give
now’ but they don’t want my
blood,” Pete, a 26-year-old office manager, told the
Post-Intelligencer. He was added to the
deferral list three years ago for having sex with a man one
time.

The Food and Drug
Administration drafts the screening questions and
requires that blood centers maintain deferral lists. It
imposes the restriction to protect the national blood
supply from HIV.

Critics argue the
policy is flawed.

“Given
modern testing and the fact that anyone can be vulnerable to
infection, there is no medical or scientific rationale for
this discriminatory policy,” Joe Solmonese,
president of the Human Rights Campaign, told the
Post-Intelligencer. (The Advocate)

Tags: Health

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