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If It's OK To Reject Blood From Gay Men, What About Black People?


"If it's OK to reject blood from gay men, what about blacks?" Interesting question...

William Saletan writes:
From 1977 to the present, have you had sexual contact with another male, even once? You'll have to answer that question, word for word, on a donor form if you want to give blood in the [United States].

Why?

Because, as the FDA explains, men who have had sex with men—known in the blood world as MSM—"are, as a group, at increased risk for HIV, hepatitis B and certain other infections."

To protect blood recipients from this risk, your blood must be excluded.

The FDA bases its MSM policy on simple math.

"Men who have had sex with men since 1977 have an HIV prevalence … 60 times higher than the general population," the agency observes.

"Even taking into account that 75% of HIV infected men who have sex with men already know they are HIV positive and would be unlikely to donate blood," that leaves a population of MSM blood-donor applicants whose HIV prevalence is "over 15 fold higher than the general population."

So a 15-fold difference is good enough to warrant group exclusion.

How about a nine-fold difference? According to the Centers for Disease Control, HIV prevalence is eight to nine times higher among blacks than among whites, and HIV incidence (the rate of new infections in a given year) is seven times higher.

For black women, HIV prevalence is 18 times higher than for white women.

And these numbers understate the likely difference in risk to the blood supply. READ MORE

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