(WHTM) — From coast to coast, blood supply is at an all time low, sparking calls for the FDA to make changes on who can donate.
“These bans are still outdated and don’t reflect the science and what they do is really to continue to stigmatize gay or bisexual men or men who have sex with men and prohibit them from donating,” said Dr. Amesh Adalja, an infectious disease specialist at Johns Hopkins University.
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Dr. Amesh Adalja from Johns Hopkins University says these restrictions stem from the height of the AIDS crisis in the 1980s.
“It used to be a lifetime ban, then it was a year ban, now it is a 3-month ban,” Dr. Adalja said.
A lot has changed since then, that includes more sophisticated testing.
“In the early days, you would just test looking for antibodies and there was this window period where a person might have been infected with HIV have a very high viral load but not made antibodies yet,” Dr. Adalja said.
But blood banks have shifted away from antibody testing.
“Now they use PCR testing. They’re looking for the genetic material of the virus. Just like COVID-19 PCR tests look for the genetic material of COVID-19,” Dr. Adalja said.
He says this policy is preventing “good blood” from helping the shortage. LGBTQ+ advocates say it all comes from deep-rooted misinformation.
“Some of it comes from ignorance and lack of access to correct information. Some of it comes from fear and some of it comes from bigotry and it’s a constant battle to work against all three of those things,” said Wendy Cheesman, board chair at the Lancaster LGBTQ+ Coalition.
Advocates say they’ll continue pushing the FDA to remove the ban.