Addressing the Blood Shortage: Lifting Blood Donation Restrictions

 

In the United States and around the world there is a blood shortage - one that is impacting the healthcare system and those who so desperately need transfusions to survive.  In fact, the American Red Cross has shared that it is the worst blood shortage in over a decade. Clearly, Covid-19 played a role in the current state of the blood supply around the world.  That said, properly addressing this problem is an important action and critical to the health of the world.

 

Did you know that a host of countries have had long-standing restrictions on blood donors?  If so, are you aware that one’s sexual orientation could impact their ability to donate?  

Restrictions on Blood Donation

These bans, which began back in the early 1980s during the HIV/AIDS crisis, were initially created to protect the blood supply. We simply did not have the technology necessary to detect the presence of the virus, thus those receiving blood were at risk of infection.  Today, things are much different.  Advances in medicine now allow the presence of the HIV/AIDS virus to be detected in small quantities early in infection (within days).

 

In response to this progress as well as to pressure from the LGBTQ community, the US Food and Drug reversed their ban on gay men donating and recommended these individuals wait to donate 3 months after a sexual encounter (a decrease from previous guidelines).

 

Around the world, similar rules are being lifted.  In March of this year, France will remove questions regarding sexual orientation from their donation paperwork.  Other countries including Brazil, Italy, Spain, and Israel have made similar decisions.

Increase Blood Supply

These important decisions broaden the pool of donors which increases the world’s blood supply, providing much-needed relief.  The idea that these restrictions lasted so long is frustrating, but the fact that changes are being made based on medical advances and proven facts gives us hope.  People are people, and all those who want to help through blood donation, who are able to safely, should be provided that opportunity.

 

At Rainbow Depot, we are proud of those in our community who have stepped up to donate blood and encourage everyone who can consider helping in this way.