Academic journal article Journal of Critical Incidents

Campus Blood Drive Suspension: Effective or Ineffective Organizational Decision Making?

Academic journal article Journal of Critical Incidents

Campus Blood Drive Suspension: Effective or Ineffective Organizational Decision Making?

Article excerpt

Dilemma at CSU--North Bay

Though the Faculty Senate at CSU--North Bay voted on April 24, 2008 to suspend blood drives, the university president, Armando Ramirez, wondered what to do. To decide contrary to the Senate could strain his relationship with some faculty but he believed he had to make his own decision. Other stakeholders were the students that organized periodic blood drives on campus with the local blood bank that counted on donations from young people, who tend to have fewer medical reasons to be excluded due to ill health than older people. Should President Ramirez follow the lead of a sister California State University campus, San Jose State University (SJSU), and suspend blood drives based on the opinion that the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) ban on donations from men who have had sex with men (MSM) was discriminatory. SJSU defined discrimination in the broad sense of the word; one group (i.e., MSM in this instance) was excluded by the FDA because of its sexual orientation. However, there had been no legal opinions supported by the courts in the US that viewed rejection of high risk groups from donating blood as discriminatory.

On April 24, 2008 the CSU--North Bay Academic Senate approved, by a vote of 21 to 13, the following:

   ... Be It Resolved: that the Academic Senate...strongly urges the
   campus Administration to rescind immediately the authorization of
   Blood Banks to operate on this campus, due to their discriminatory
   policy against gay men. Rationale:...University has a clear
   policy on non-discrimination, which includes discrimination on the
   basis of sexual/gender preference. Since the Reagan era of the
   early 1980's, by order of the Federal Food and Drug Administration
   blood banks are required to decline blood donations from male
   persons acknowledging during their pre-donation questioning having
   had sex with other men since 1977. This policy may have made sense
   when it was first implemented, because then the cause of AIDS was
   unknown and the disease seemed to target gay men preferentially.
   However, 24 years later, the cause of AIDS is known--the Human
   Immuno-deficiency Virus or HIV--and it can be, and routinely is,
   screened for in donated blood (along with many other pathogens). It
   is also known today that anyone can get AIDS, irrespective of
   sexual orientation. To maintain that gay men who donate blood are
   ipso facto a threat to the public health is simply an anachronistic
   and discriminatory stereotype....

President Ramirez read the resolution and considered the controversy. He wondered what to do?

Long-term Controversy in FDA

In 2000, the FDA (Josefson, 2000) voted 7-6 to continue with the lifetime ban against permitting MSM to donate blood. The stringent policy was adopted in 1985 because some of the blood supply had been contaminated with HIV. Table 1 contains a summary of the FDA's view:

Table 1 Blood Donations from Men Who Have Sex with Other Men

...MSM are, as a group, at increased risk for HIV, hepatitis B and
certain other infections that can be transmitted by transfusion....

Men who have had sex with men...have an HIV prevalence...60 times
higher than the general population, 800 times higher than first
time blood donors and 8000 times higher than repeat blood donors
(American Red Cross). Even taking into account that 75% of HIV
infected men who have sex with men already know they are HIV
positive and would be unlikely to donate blood, the HIV prevalence
in potential donors with history of male sex with males is 200
times higher than first time blood donors and 2000 times higher
than repeat blood donors.

Men who have had sex with men account for the largest single group
of blood donors who are found HIV positive by blood donor
testing....

Having had a low number of partners is known to decrease the risk
of HIV infection. However, to date, no donor eligibility questions
have been shown to reliably identify a subset of MSM (e. … 
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