05/09/2005: More Bad Science...and It's Not Only in Kansas, Toto...
I posted a comment in the previous piece about Gay men being refused to be allowed to serve as anonymous sperm donors. Here is the link to this latest FDA policy item: Gays To Be Banned As Sperm Donors (from The Associated Press.)
"(New York City) The Food and Drug Administration is about to implement new rules recommending that any man who has engaged in homosexual sex in the previous five years be barred from serving as an anonymous sperm donor.
The FDA has rejected calls to scrap the provision, insisting that gay men collectively pose a higher-than-average risk of carrying the AIDS virus. Critics accuse the FDA of stigmatizing all gay men rather than adopting a screening process that focuses on high-risk sexual behavior by any would-be donor, gay or straight.
"Under these rules, a heterosexual man who had unprotected sex with HIV-positive prostitutes would be OK as a donor one year later, but a gay man in a monogamous, safe-sex relationship is not OK unless he's been celibate for five years," said Leland Traiman, director of a clinic in Alameda, Calif., that seeks gay sperm donors.
Traiman said adequate safety assurances can be provided by testing a sperm donor at the time of the initial donation, then freezing the sperm for a six-month quarantine and testing the donor again to be sure there is no new sign of HIV or other infectious diseases.
Although there is disagreement over whether the FDA guideline regarding gay men will have the force of law, most doctors and clinics are expected to observe it.
The practical effect of the provision part of a broader set of cell and tissue donation regulations that take effect May 25 is hard to gauge. It is likely to affect some lesbian couples who want a child and prefer to use a gay man's sperm for artificial insemination.
But it is the provision's symbolic aspect that particularly troubles gay-rights groups. Kevin Cathcart, executive director of Lambda Legal, has called it "policy based on bigotry."
"The part I find most offensive and a little frightening is that it isn't based on good science," Cathcart said. "There's a steadily increasing trend of heterosexual transmission of HIV, and yet the FDA still has this notion that you protect people by putting gay men out of the pool ."
Karen on 05.09.05 @ 12:44 PM CST