Blood Work: LGBT reaction to the FDA’s new donation policy

 | Metro Weekly | January 14, 2016

Blood donation - Photo: Matej Kastelic

Blood donation – Photo: Matej Kastelic

Porter Brockway and Al Derus have been married for two years. The couple, who live in Silver Spring, share everything — even the same blood type. And yet, current FDA guidance would prevent either from donating blood or tissue to save the other’s life.

The prohibition affecting Brockway and Derus previously existed as a lifetime deferral for any men who had sex with men (MSM), regardless of whether or not they were monogamous. Enacted at the height of the AIDS epidemic, the indefinite deferral was enforced as a way of keeping the nation’s blood supply as free of HIV antibodies as possible. Even as advances in HIV testing technology advanced, the deferral stayed in place until last month, when the FDA changed the period to one year from the time of last sexual contact.

Initially, when the first news reports came out, Brockway was pleased to see headlines stating that what essentially constituted a lifetime ban on gay and bisexual men had been lifted.

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