What Are The Risks Of Donating Blood
There are no health risks in giving blood. You CANNOT get HIV from donating blood. The needle and bag used to collect blood are sterile and prepackaged. A new package is used every time.
You may have a small bruise on your arm. In rare cases, a person’s arm may bleed after the bandage is taken off. If this happens, raise your arm and put pressure on the needle site for several minutes.
Some people feel faint after they donate blood. This is more common for younger people and for people who are donating for the first time. If you have fainted after donating blood and you choose to donate again, be sure to tell the person who is going to draw your blood. Drinking extra water before you donate may reduce this risk.
Medical Care And Treatment
It is very important that you have a full medical check-up. This should be arranged at a specialist centre or voluntary counselling and testing centre for the care of people with HIV infection. The centre will arrange a full medical assessment which will give much more information about your health. You will also have access to support for other problems which may arise as a result of the infection, such as informing partners and family.
There is no cure for HIV infection, but modern treatments aim to keep people with HIV healthy for as long as possible. HIV can be suppressed by combination antiretroviral therapy consisting of three or more antiretroviral drugs. ART does not cure HIV infection but controls viral replication within a person’s body and allows an individual’s immune system to strengthen and regain the power to fight off infections. With ART, HIV-infected individuals can live healthy and productive lives.
Blood Screening In The United States
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration , through the Center for Biologics and Research , is responsible for ensuring the safety of the roughly 19 million units of whole blood donated in the United States each year.
To keep the blood supply safe, the FDA has established regulations to screen donors before a donation and to screen donated blood after it has been received by blood banks. To help with this, an extensive questionnaire is given to donors to collect information about their medical history and any risk factors that may exclude them from donating.
Blood received from donors then undergoes routine screening for the following blood-transmitted infections:
- Hepatitis B
- Zika virus
Any donated blood is quarantined until it is tested and shown to be free of infection.
Due to advanced blood screening practices, the risk of the accidental transmission of hepatitis B and C from contaminated blood is less than one in 500,000 and one in two million transfused units, respectively.
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The Future Of Donations From Gay And Bisexual Men
To donate blood or plasma, a person must fill out a questionnaire to determine eligibility.
Men are asked if theyve had sex with other men in the past three months. If so, theyre ineligible to donate even though donations are tested for a whole host of infectious diseases, including HIV.
It diminishes our lives, it diminishes our sex lives, it diminishes who we are. It is absurd and hurtful, Halkitis said. It is reminiscent to me of when gay men were first getting married, it was, Oh, are you going to have safe sex all the time? Do we say that to straight people?
Theres a different set of rules for gay people and straight people, for Black people and white people, he said. Its a perpetuation of othering that constantly goes on. The bottom line is blood is tested, so what is the problem taking blood from a gay man?
Blood banks also ask people if theyve paid for or been paid for sex in the past three months, and if theyve used needles to inject drugs or steroids not prescribed by a doctor in the past three months. But in general, straight donors are not asked for details about their sex lives. A straight person who engages in unprotected casual sex could be permitted to donate over a gay or bisexual man in a monogomous relationship.
And even if a gay or bi man has been celibate for three months, he can still be prevented from donating if he is taking PrEP, a medication that prevents HIV-negative people from becoming HIV-positive.
If Officials Can Test For Hiv In Blood Why Dont They Allow Anyone To Donate And Then Destroy Tainted Units
Every donated unit of blood undergoes a rigorous series of tests to determine any possible presence of HIV, hepatitis, syphilis and other blood-borne disease. None of these tests, however, are 100 percent accurate, and they can produce faulty results. For instance, despite current restrictions and testing of approximately 12 million units donated each year, 10 HIV-infected units have slipped through. To ensure the safety of blood and other tissues for donation, the FDA uses scientific data to automatically defer certain populations. Because gay and bisexual men have higher incidence of disease, they are eliminated from the donor pool immediately.
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What Were The Rules For Gay And Bisexual Men Before These New Changes And How Have They Changed Over The Years
Currently, until the new rules are implemented, a man who reports that he has had sex with another man in the past three months is not eligible to give blood. This therefore includes gay and bisexual men in ongoing sexual relationships with one other person. These current rules replaced previous rules for a 12-month deferral period. Prior to that men could not donate blood if they reported they had ever had sex with another man, regardless of when the sex was. This was rightly challenged as being discriminatory by National AIDS Trust and many others it excluded a lot of men from giving blood when there was no risk of any BBV having been acquired that wouldnt be picked up in screening.
Man Who Contracted Hiv From Blood Transfusion Plans To Sue Florida Blood Supplier
One of the two people in Tampa Bay, Fla., who became infected with HIV through a blood transfusion is suing Florida Blood Services, the not-for-profit agency that collected and screened the blood, the reports . FDA and state officials announced last week that they are investigating FBS after the blood agency said that two people had contracted HIV after being treated with contaminated blood products. The blood, which tested negative for HIV, was taken in March from a regular donor, who tested positive for the virus in May. Because the March donation tested negative for the virus, officials believe that the donor had just contracted HIV when he or she made the donation. After a person acquires HIV, it can take seven to 10 days for the body to produce antibodies to HIV that are detectable by standard blood tests . A lawyer for the man, who received the blood in March during abdominal surgery, and his son sent a letter to the blood agency on Friday announcing his intention to file suit.
This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations.Sign up for an email subscription.
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What Process Led To These Changes
NHS Blood and Transplant led a steering group called FAIR . It was set up to consider how risk could be assessed on a more individual basis when people go to donate blood. Public Health England and the University of Nottingham were also involved along with charities from the LGBT+ and HIV sectors, including National AIDS Trust. FAIR made recommendations to SaBTO which in turn made recommendations to the Government.
Blood Transfusions & Transplants And Hiv
- In most places in the world the risk of getting HIV from a blood transfusion is very low.
- International health guidelines state that all blood products must be tested for viruses such as HIV, and in most countries rigorous testing procedures are put in place.
- In rare cases where blood or blood products, such as a donated organ or tissue, have not been tested, HIV may be transmitted if the donation has come from an HIV-positive individual.
- You have the right to ask your healthcare professional if a blood product has been tested for HIV or not.
- You cannot get HIV from donating blood as new, sterile and disposable needles are used.
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Donor Testing: Human Immunodeficiency Virus
Canadian Blood Services takes responsibility for the safety of the blood supply. Canadian patients depend on us to manage a safe, secure and cost-effective blood system. Emerging risks and best practices are monitored continuously to make sure that our blood and blood products are safe and of highest quality. Ensuring the safety of both donors and recipients is paramount at Canadian Blood Services and that is why we test every donation for a range of infectious diseases that may be transmitted by blood transfusion, including Human Immunodeficiency Virus .
What Tests Are Done On Donated Blood
After donation, your blood is tested for certain diseases, such as hepatitis B and C, HIV, West Nile virus, and HTLV-I/II viruses. Donated blood must pass all of these tests. If any disease is detected, the blood is thrown away and the donor is notified. The blood is tracked so it can be traced back to the donor and the collection location.
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What Happens If We Find A Problem With Your Blood
If you test positive for any of the diseases named above, you will be notified and your blood will not be used for transfusions. In addition, you may be asked to speak with one of our medical professionals at the blood bank and scheduled for a follow-up visit and further testing. Your consent for re-testing will be requested again at that time.
The names of donors with positive test results are kept in confidential files and will not be released without your written consent unless required by law. We will not notify you if your test results are negative and we do not find any problems or if the blood samples we collected were insufficient to provide enough blood to complete laboratory tests.
What More Needs To Be Done
As well as reviewing the rules that apply as three-month deferral , there’s currently a lifetime exclusion for anyone who has ever injected drugs, regardless of when this took place. This is clearly an unnecessary exclusion affecting anyone with historical use of injecting drugs. This rule is in part dictated by EU Directive. However, there is precedent for deviating from directives when they are unnecessarily exclusionary and there is evidential basis for doing so. We would therefore like to see an urgent review of this, with changes made to the law if necessary.
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Reduce Heart Attack Risk
Regular blood donation may help reduce heart attack risk in many individuals. When an individual donates blood, their blood viscosity is decreased., and when blood has a lower viscosity, it does not produce as much friction on the blood vessels, tiny capillaries, and arteries. This mechanism results in less damage to the arterial walls, which is known to cause plaque buildup in the arteries. Overweight and obese individuals have a higher risk of having a heart attack.
Donating blood on a regular basis can assist an individual in their weight loss efforts, as mentioned earlier. We also know cardiovascular disease risk is increased when an individual has high blood iron levels, which are known to expedite the process of cholesterol oxidation in the body, causing damage to arteries. Damaged arteries lead to cholesterol and plaque buildup that produces blockages that often result in heart attacks.
What Should The Federal Policy Be
Human Rights Campaign believes that the updated policy, like its precursors, does not treat persons with like risks in a similar way. It also believes that donors are deferred based on their membership in a group in this case, all men who have sex with men rather than engagement in risky behavior, such as unprotected sex. For example, a man who has had protected oral sex with another man once in the 3 months currently barred from donating blood. Yet a woman who has had unprotected sex with multiple partners over the same time frame with no knowledge of their personal histories remains in the donor pool.HRC believes that the integrity and safety of the blood supply in this country should be preserved, strengthened and maintained. Any change or alteration in the regulations governing donor suitability must be based in science. The federal government must invest in new research to study risk behavior. HRC has strongly encouraged FDA to revise the donor questionnaire based on an individual risk assessment of sexual behaviors upon which all donors are evaluated equally, without regard to sexual orientation or gender identity.
As part of its announcement of the revised deferral policy, the FDA indicated was undertaking the research necessary to modernize the donor questionnaire.
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Important Information About Hiv And Aids
- I am a man who has had sex with another man even one time since 1977.
- I have taken illegal drugs with a needle.
- I have taken clotting factor concentrates for a bleeding disorder such as hemophilia.
- I have taken money or drugs for sex since 1977.
- I have had sex within the last 12 months with someone who has been involved in any of the activities listed above.
- I have received blood, for any reason, within the last 12 months.
- I have had or been treated for syphilis or gonorrhea in the last 12 months.
- I have had sex in the past 12 months with someone who has AIDS or who has tested positive for the AIDS virus.
- I have been held in a correctional institution for more than 72 hours consecutively within the last 12 months.
- Fever higher than 100.5 for more than 10 days
- Unexplained sweating, especially at night
- Persistent cough
- swollen lymph nodes lasting more than one month
- White or unusual spots in your mouth that will not go away
- Blue or purple spots on or under the skin or inside the mouth or nose
- HIV antibodies
Can I Get Hiv From Donating Blood
There is no chance of getting HIV from donating blood. New, disposable and sterile needles will be used to collect your blood.
If you suspect that the needle your healthcare professional is using is not new or sterile then ask them to change the needle and check that it comes out of a sealed pack before agreeing to give blood.
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Who Can Donate Blood
To donate blood, you must:
- Be at least 17 years old.
- Weigh at least 110 lb .
- Be in good health.
Some people can’t donate because of health or other issues. For example, you may not be able to donate if:
- You recently donated blood or a blood product. The length of time you must wait between donations depends on the product you are donating, such as whole blood or platelets.
- You don’t have enough hemoglobin in your blood. Before you donate, you will have a test to check your hemoglobin level.
- You are pregnant.
- You have traveled to certain countries.
- Your blood pressure is too high or too low. Your blood pressure will be checked before you donate.
- You take certain medicines.
- You have certain health problems, such as .
- You had a recent needlestick or got a tattoo or piercing.
Having a long-term illness, such as , doesn’t mean you can’t donate. You may be able to give blood if your health problem is under control. But you shouldn’t donate blood if you feel like you’re getting a cold or the flu.
Before you donate, a health professional will ask about your current and past health to make sure that you can donate. Some of these questions are very personal, so you will be asked them in private. You will be asked these questions every time you give blood, because the list of who can give blood may change, or your health may change.
A Civic Duty On The Wane
During World War II giving blood was seen as patriotic, and the American Red Cross collected more than 13 million pints a year. When fighting ended Americans continued to offer their blood out of a sense of civic duty.
But even before the pandemic, giving had significantly declined. Weve had less and less blood donors every year for a decade, says Kate Fry, CEO of Americas Blood Centers, a national organization of 600 blood collection sites. Only about 3 percent of eligible donorshealthy people between ages 17 and 75, who weigh at least 110 poundsactually donate blood.
The lifetime ban on gay men giving blood was imposed in 1985, the year actor Rock Hudson died of AIDS-related illness. It included all men whod had sex with another man since 1977, the year the AIDS virus is thought to have first become present.
Though the deferral period has become shorter over the years, the problematic assumptions it is based on are the same, says Jason Cianciotto, vice president of communications and policy at Gay Mens Health Crisis , an HIV/AIDS service organization.
It is predicated on the belief that you get HIV based on who you are, not what you do, Cianciotto says. GMHC advocates for a shift from the present identity-based deferral system to one that is more individualized and risk-based.
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