This is very disappointing and upsetting.
The Federal Advisory Committee on Blood Safety and Availability voted 9 to 6 against lifting the ban on gays to donate blood on Friday.
The archaic ruling dictates that any man who has had sex with another man since 1977, even once, is ineligible to donate blood. The ban was instituted in the early 1980s, when concerns about HIV-positive blood were at their highest and there were no tests to identify the disease from donated blood.
However, the year is 2010, we have all the resources to safely test HIV tainted blood supplies, and yet the committee recommended keeping the policy, calling it a precaution.
Just to put this in perspective for a minute: one report found that 219,000 more pints of blood could be available each year if the FDA lifted the ban. Think of the amount of lives that could be saved with those kinds of resources!
The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force cited this figure in its response to the decision, as well as saying:
"The committee's decision today not only leaves a discriminatory practice in place, it also puts lives at risk."
The American Red Cross also expressed their disappointment about the decision, stating that "while the Red Cross is obligated by law to follow the guidelines set forth by the FDA, we also strongly support the use of rational, scientifically-based deferral periods that are applied fairly and consistently among donors who engage in similar risk activities."
We would have thought that we, as a nation, had become more open-minded than this. It's sad to hear that we are wrong.
[Image via AP Images.]