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SOURCE Memorial Blood Centers
ST. PAUL, Minn., July 9, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- On Friday, July 11, the second annual nationwide National Gay Blood Drive (NGBD) will take place to raise public awareness and increase pressure on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to change its policy on the long-standing ban on blood donation by men who have had sex with other men (MSM) – a restriction that has been in place since 1983.
In Minnesota, the drive is scheduled to occur from 7:30 AM to 4 PM at Memorial Blood Centers' Saint Paul Donor Center located at 737 Pelham Boulevard.
New this year, supporters who are ineligible to donate blood are being encouraged by NGBD organizers to bring a friend (surrogate) to donate in their place. The number of donations will be documented by NGBD organizers and sent to the FDA, Health and Human Services, and the White House in an effort to illustrate the additional units of blood that could be added to the nation's blood supply if the ban on MSM blood donations were changed.
Participants who do not meet current FDA guidelines for eligibility will not be allowed to donate blood.
"The primary concern of Memorial Blood Centers, and all blood centers nationwide, is a safe and stable blood supply for our community and our nation" said Jed Gorlin, M.D., Memorial Blood Center's Chief Medical Officer and Vice President Medical and Quality Affairs, adding "we rigorously follow all FDA mandates on donor eligibility, and recognize the need to consistently apply scientifically based deferral policies across all prospective blood donors."
Key Factors Regarding Blood Donor Eligibility
MSM Deferral Q&A
What is Memorial Blood Centers' position on the MSM Deferral question?
Along with other members of America's Blood Centers (ABC), Memorial Blood Centers has supported ABC's proposal to the FDA to change the MSM deferral from lifetime to the same as most other risk deferrals. The reason is three-fold:
Why are homosexual men and not homosexual women deferred from donating blood?
The FDA, based on research from the Centers for Disease Control, has determined that gay men are at the highest risk for HIV infection. Other groups excluded from giving blood under the HIV deferral criteria include those born in sub-Saharan Africa and those who have ever used intravenous drugs, along with individuals who have exchanged money for sex.
What about men who have had a low number of partners, practice safe sex, or who are currently in monogamous relationships?
Having had a low number of partners is known to decrease the risk of HIV infection. However, to date, no donor eligibility questions have been shown to reliable identify a subset of MSM (e.g., based on monogamy or safe sexual practices) who do not still have a substantially increased rate of HIV infection compared to the general population or currently accepted blood donors.
Sources: America's Blood Centers, FDA
About Memorial Blood Centers
Memorial Blood Centers has been saving lives for over 65 years as an independent nonprofit supplying life-saving blood to area hospitals and other partners throughout the U.S. Operating 11 donor centers and conducting hundreds of blood drives each month, Memorial Blood Centers also provides comprehensive testing and expert technical services as a national leader in transfusion medicine. www.MBC.org.
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