College Students Oppose Blood Donation Safety Policy

Some students at Ithaca College in New York are voicing their opposition to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) safety policies for blood donation.

The students recently poured fake blood on themselves and took pictures because the FDA has restrictions on blood donations for sexually-active gay men, women and those with piercings and tattoos, notes USA TODAY College.

Kyle James (pictured above), a recent grad and gay man, created the "My Blood is Good" campaign in May after not being allowed to donate his blood for 12 months because the FDA does not allow gay men to do so if they have engaged in sexual activity within the past 12 months.

The FDA also places the same restriction on people who have had a tattoo or body piercing, and women who have engaged in sex with a man who has also had sexual contact with another man within the last 12 months.

The FDA created its rules to keep the blood supply clear of HIV and other communicable diseases. LGBT people who comply with the FDA rules are not banned from donating blood.

James created an online petition at Charge.org that states: "We believe that if the policies were changed to focus on high-risk activities instead of targeting specific identities, they would be both more effective and allow for more useable blood to be donated."

"To best protect the blood supply in the U.S., the FDA based this policy update on what we know about HIV epidemiology in the U.S. today," FDA spokeswoman Tara Goodin told USA TODAY College via email.

"The FDA carefully considered alternative deferral criteria, such as individual risk assessment for individual HIV risk ...," Goodin added. "However, evidence shows that self-reporting presents significant issues in the U.S."

The Centers for Disease Control states on its website:

Gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (MSM) represent approximately 2% of the United States population, yet are the population most severely affected by HIV. In 2010, young gay and bisexual men (aged 13-24 years) accounted for 72% of new HIV infections among all persons aged 13 to 24, and 30% of new infections among all gay and bisexual men. At the end of 2011, an estimated 500,022 (57%) persons living with an HIV diagnosis in the United States were gay and bisexual men, or gay and bisexual men who also inject drugs.

Sources: USA TODAY College, Centers for Disease Control, Change.org / Photo Credit: Kyle James/Instagram

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