ORLANDO – A federal panel heard evidence last week to consider overturning a ban on blood bank donations by gay men – a holdover from the early days of the HIV virus and AIDS, Watermark reports.
But instead of suggesting the removal of the ban, members voted Dec. 5 to recommend funding continued research and establishing a “transfusion-transmissible infections monitoring system.”
The decision was a blow to advocates who have been pressing to overturn the 1985 FDA decision they say stigmatizes gay men and ignores advances in treatment and detection in the decades since, the Watermark report said.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Advisory Committee on Blood and Tissue Safety and Availability listened to research presentations Dec. 4-5 before voting on the recommendation. HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will have the final say.
Although those infected with HIV typically develop antibodies within two-to-eight weeks of exposure, there are cases where it can take up to six months for those antibodies to show up, the CDC says.
The CDC has reported on examples in recent years of patients contracting HIV from blood transfusions, although it is extremely rare.