New York, NY - Today the FDA formally released a 12-month deferral plan in the blood donation policy for gay and bisexual men, clinically referred to as "men who have sex with men" (MSM). The policy replaces a lifetime ban on gay and bisexual male blood donors with a one-year deferral for any man who has had sex with another man - meaning, gay and bisexual men must be celibate for one year before they can donate blood.
The following is a statement from Kelsey Louie, GMHC's CEO:
The FDA's 12-month deferral plan would still require gay and bisexual men to be celibate for a full year before they are allowed to donate blood, regardless of marital status and safe-sex practices. Heterosexuals are given no such restrictions, even if their sexual behavior places them at high risk for HIV. In practice, the new policy is still a continuation of the lifetime ban and ignores the modern science of HIV-testing technology while perpetuating the stereotype that all gay and bisexual men are inherently dangerous. Blood donation policies should be based on science, not stigma.
The United States government has to stop reacting to HIV like it is the early 1980s. Other countries have implemented risk-based deferral systems that reflect modern science and screen all donors for behavior that could lead to HIV transmission. Since Italy implemented this type of system in 2001, transfusion-related infections have actually decreased.
It is time for the FDA to implement a policy that is truly based on science, not blanket bans on certain groups of people. GMHC is optimistic that we can and should get to a policy that will treat gay people who want to donate blood with the dignity and respect they deserve.
This is why GMHC is proud to participate in a campaign for #BloodEquality, a bold advocacy campaign launched to stop the discrimination against prospective donors and allow everyone an equal opportunity to donate blood.
More information on the Blood Equality campaign can be found at www.Blood-Equality.com
# # #
About Gay Men's Health Crisis
Gay Men's Health Crisis (GMHC) is the nation's leading provider of HIV and AIDS care, prevention services and advocacy, serving nearly 9,000 people living with and affected by HIV and AIDS in New York City, the epidemic's largest U.S. epicenter. As the world's first HIV and AIDS service organization, GMHC is an expert in providing services that every person affected by the epidemic deserves. GMHC is on the front lines caring for people who are both HIV negative and positive, including: testing, nutrition, legal, mental health and education services. GMHC also advocates for stronger public policies at the local, state and federal level with the goal of ending AIDS as an epidemic in New York State by 2020. Most recently, GMHC and other HIV and AIDS organizations successfully persuaded the federal government to recommend widespread use of PrEP, a new daily treatment that is over 90% effective in preventing HIV infection. For more information, visit www.gmhc.org.
About the FCB Health Network
With more than 30 years of experience marketing to healthcare professionals, patients and consumers, FCB Health produces work that is both strategically relevant and creatively compelling. The agency provides its clients with multichannel capabilities, including payer strategy and marketing, professional education, scientific services, strategic planning and media services. Its high energy, diverse culture and global network have resulted in a robust client roster, including Abbvie, Onyx, Takeda, J&J, Boehringer-Ingelheim, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Lilly and Novartis. It was named "Agency of the Year" by Medical Advertising News in 2006 and 2009 and by Medical Marketing & Media in 2007 and 2010. For the past four out of five years, FCB Health was named Most Creative Agency by Medical Advertising News.
FCB Health is a unit of FCB, itself a member of the Interpublic Group (NYSE: IPG). Under its network umbrella, FCB Health has other separate full-service, multichannel healthcare agencies, including AREA 23 and Neon, as well as units focusing specifically on managed markets and medical education, Mosaic, ProHealth and Hudson Global. For more information, visit www.fcbhealthcare.com.