Dr Milena Murray: Much Work Remains to Get Rid of the Ban on Gay Men Donating Blood

November 16, 2020

Even heterosexual women are at risk of contracting HIV, so gay men should not be singled out as the only population with a transmission risk, said Milena Murray, PharmD, MSc, BCIDP, AAHIVP, associate professor, Midwestern University College of Pharmacy.

Even heterosexual women are at risk of contracting HIV, so gay men should not be singled out as the only population with a transmission risk, emphasized Milena Murray, PharmD, MSc, BCIDP, AAHIVP, associate professor at Midwestern University Chicago College of Pharmacy who practices at Northwestern Medicine's Infectious Disease Center in Chicago.

Transcript

Do the FDA guidelines on gay men donating blood continue to unfairly single out this population as being at greater risk of contracting or transmitting HIV?

So this population is not the only one with an HIV transmission risk, and nobody should be singled out when they're trying to do a good deed for society, such as giving blood. I really think that blood donation is a missed opportunity for HIV testing. Many patients or people donating might not even know that they're at risk, and so I think this point-of-care diagnosing can be helpful. Since there's all these people coming to donate blood, it's an opportunity for that point-of-care testing. We definitely still have some work to get rid of this ban so that it's nonexistent.

And I think that there's that concern that somebody would still be in the transition of becoming positive for antibodies, etc, but again, that could be anybody that's donating blood. So I think that it's important to not single a specific population at risk out. For example, a heterosexual female living in an area where there's a high incidence of HIV would also be at risk, but yet if that person were to walk in and want to donate blood, there would be no questions asked.