Blood agency reviews gay donor policy

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The agency in charge of protecting the nation’s blood supply has been following a double standard since 1985.

The rule has been that a man who had sex with another man even once since 1977 is banned permanently from donating blood. Yet there’s only a one-year deferral for a man who has had sex with an HIV-positive woman.

That policy will be re-examined today and Friday in Washington, D.C., at a meeting of an advisory panel of the Department of Health and Human Services. A change would significantly increase the pool of donors and could boost blood donations nationwide.

It's about time, a group of lawmakers said at news conference on Wednesday.

“By clinging to a 1980s view of the world, we are perpetuating a stereotype,” said Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Ill.

The guidelines were put in place before HIV/AIDS screening tests were available, and were designed to target specific subgroups where blood-borne pathogens were the most concentrated.

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