A month ago a panel in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommended that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) end its ban that kept men who had ever had sex with other men from ever donating blood as a way to avoid accidental exposure of HIV to the blood supply. Instead, they suggested that the FDA treat gay and bisexual men the same way they treat heterosexual men who have consorted with prostitutes: No blood donations for a year if they've had sex. Now the FDA is pushing forward with this recommendation, to possibly be implemented early next year.
The current permanent ban is based on old science about how reliable HIV tests were and how long it takes for tests to detect HIV in the bloodstream. There was a time when it could take months, as the virus incubated, for an infected person to test positive. Current HIV tests can detect the virus now with just an 11-day window for incubation.
So a permanent ban preventing gay and bisexual men from donating blood is overkill. But even the one-year ban seems extreme, given the science. AIDS awareness group Gay Men's Health Crisis calls the new policy useless and essentially a "lifetime ban" for most gay men. But this one-year ban matches the rules for other countries like the United Kingdom and Canada. According to one study, letting gay men who aren't getting laid donate blood would add 317,000 pints to the blood supply in the United States annually.
So I'm working on my script treatment for a gay "indie" romantic comedy about two lonely men who meet while donating blood and have to get over whatever personality quirks have been keeping them from getting some action. Steal my idea and you'll be the one needing blood donations.
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