The FDA has announced it is lifting the lifetime ban on blood donation by men who have sex with men (Reuters), and will allow donation by men who have not had sex with other men in the previous twelve months (NYT). [more inside]
"Especially with the country in great need of donation, science should speak louder than stigma in determining who can help."
Tainted: Why Gay Men Still Can't Donate Blood - "Since 1983, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidelines have disqualified men who have ever had sex with men (MSM) from donating blood... Uneven application of exclusion to at-risk individuals suggests that risk aversion disproportionately impacts MSMs. For example, a non-MSM individual who has had sexual contact with a commercial sex worker or HIV-positive partner is deferred for only twelve months... The fact that the U.S. upholds a lifetime ban on MSM donation while Australian policy allows MSM individuals to donate a year or less after contact reveals a glaring discrepancy. Both ethics and science point to a flaw in FDA policy. That I could have had sex with 365 partners this year and be a perfectly fine candidate for donating blood, while the MSM next to me wouldn't qualify, betrays a faulty line of logic." [more inside]
Need to settle a dispute with a friend, but don't want to flip a coin? Try Diabetting, a new way to settle decisions using the most-recently-updated blood sugar readings of a Type I diabetic web developer.
Scientists have discovered that "endometrial regenerative cells" (ERC's) -- in other words, human menstrual blood -- contains stem cells. ERC-derived stem cells seem to have a number of superior traits to both bone marrow derived and umbilical cord derived stem cells, the previous gold standards: they can give rise to a variety of different cell lines without differentiation, they multiply more quickly than other stem cells, they are able to replicate more times without adversely mutating, and they apparently do not need to be closely genetically matched to the recipient. Now some women have even begun banking their menstrual blood to preserve their stem cells through a company called "C'Elle: Your Monthly Miracle" -- check out their FAQ and online video. This follows last May's announcement that menstrual blood derived cells can pretty much cure Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy in mice, a disease for which there is no current therapeutic treatment available.
The relief of pain and suffering, and the history of bloodletting, courtesy of the UCLA Online Medical Library Online Exhibits.
Welcome to self-policing corporate responsibility. A division of the pharmaceutical company Bayer (Expertise with responsibility) sold millions of dollars of blood-clotting medicine for hemophiliacs - medicine that carried a high risk of transmitting AIDS - to Asia and Latin America in the mid-1980s while selling a new, safer product in the West.
How Safe is the Blood Supply? A tainted donor infects two with HIV in Florida. The people in charge of the blood claim it's safe. But recent books and documentaries raise serious questions.
Donate blood Fellow Canadians, if you want to donate blood, call 1-888-236-6283 to set up an appointment. A friend at Canadian Blood Services said that the level in NY is very low - it's the least we can do.