New push to overturn old gay blood donor ban

On July 12th, Sam Gavzy helped organize a NY gay blood drive.

Men were tested for HIV, he said, then went to their local blood banks and were turned away.

“I think this is an important time to put pressure on the FDA,” said Gavzy.

The Director of NY Blood Center Special Donor Services, Debra Kessler, said they regularly turn away men who’ve had sex with men. The center supports a review of this policy.

“Sometimes we get pushback from college campuses where they don’t feel we should be collecting blood on college campuses,” said Kessler.

According to the FDA, in 2010, men having sex with men, accounted for at least 61 percent of all new HIV infections in the U.S.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said, “FDA’s primary responsibility is to enhance blood safety and protect blood recipients. Therefore FDA would change this policy only if supported by scientific data showing that a change in policy would not present a significant and preventable risk to blood recipients.”

Openly gay State Senator Brad Hoylman wrote a letter the the New York State Department of Health saying it’s time for change.

“The ban also I think promotes stigmatization of gay men and assumes that all gay men have HIV or AIDS which of course is not the case,” said Hoylman.

Kessler said the tests for screening are excellent, but not one hundred percent foolproof.

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