Blood Donor Controversy

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The demand for blood donations is especially high, and as Jen Bowman of the the Rock River Valley Blood Center says, they are always looking for eligible donors.

"If you are in general good health, you can probably donate."

But some people who are in perfectly good health are not considered eligible donors by the FDA. Since 1983, any man who has ever had sex with another man is banned from donating blood for life. The FDA says it's not discrimination, it's a safety precaution to prevent the spread of HIV. But with the advanced measures taken to test blood samples for infectious diseases, many like Bowman say a lifetime ban is out of line.
" Most blood centers don't agree with the FDA but it's sort of like the government we have to do wait they say. But we'd like them to seriously consider other options and really look at the facts."

According to the FDA, there is a one to two week window where HIV is undetectable in the blood stream, and that's the reason for the ban. But Bowman says the FDA is not as strict with people participating in other risky behaviors.

" I don't think sexuality has anything to do with the safety of your blood, I think it's a case by case thing and it's gotta be looked at by donors. I think most people know if they should or should not be donating blood."

According to an FDA spokesperson there is hope that the policy will change in the future once technology can detect HIV more accurately.

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