Mike Enos used to roll up his sleeve and donate blood with his co-workers. But that stopped years ago after he was ushered behind a privacy curtain at an office blood drive and told his blood wouldn't be accepted.
That's because Enos, a Kansas City insurance executive, is gay.
For decades, the federal government has imposed a lifetime ban on blood donations from men who have had sex with men. The reason is that the AIDS virus, HIV, can be spread through blood transfusions, and gay men are more likely to carry HIV than the general population.
But increasingly refined tests are removing many of the doubts about whether a blood donor carries HIV.
So a movement is under way to end the lifetime ban and bring the rules for gay blood donors more in line with restrictions placed on other potentially risky donors.
A leading gay men's health organization is calling for a rewrite of federal regulations on blood donations so that all risky behaviors — gay and heterosexual — are treated the same.
And a group of 18 U.S. senators, led by John Kerry, wrote last month to the Food and Drug Administration, the agency that regulates the nation's blood supply, to review what they called "outdated, medically and scientifically unsound deferral criteria" that exclude gay donors.
The FDA said it is "actively engaged in re-examining the issue of blood donor deferral" among gay men.
To read the complete article, visit www.kansascity.com.