Our View: Donation constraint should be valuated

DKS Editors

According to the American Red Cross, more than 38,000 blood donations are needed each day.

That’s 13,870,000 donations needed per year.

But while hospitals and relief efforts wait for donors to contribute to the cause, the Food and Drug Administration maintains its restrictions on gay men donating blood, a law that’s been in place since 1983. The law also contains a 12-month deferral, meaning a man who has had sex with another man within the past year cannot donate.

The ban, which attempts to protect blood receivers from contracting HIV, doesn’t take into account tests that can detect HIV-positive donors within 10 to 21 days of infection, meaning healthy blood donors are turned away every day due to an outdated policy.

In a letter to the FDA, a group of U.S. senators expressed concern over this restriction.

“We live in a very different country than we did in 1983. Today, the high-risk behaviors associated with HIV contraction are more fully understood and dramatic technological improvements have been made in HIV detection,” the letter read.

Although it is understood that this ban was put into place at the height of the HIV/AIDS crisis, it is time to rethink turning away thousands of possible donors. At that time, modern screening procedures and advanced testing methods for HIV didn’t exist.

So while we understand the medical concerns and the need to test donors before they give blood, advancements in medicine make the FDA’s law an unnecessary constraint. Simple solutions include issuing HIV tests prior to donation and decreasing the deferral period to six months because HIV is detectable within half a year of contracting the disease.

And while we’re at it, today is your last chance to donate during the LifeShare Blood Drive, held at the DeWeese Health Center. This is an opportunity for students to give the gift of life, and it’s not something they should take lightly.

Read the senator’s letter here: The Boston Channel

For more information about donating blood, visit www.redcross.org