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Outrage among people as US policy Bans Blood Donations by LGBT Community

The laws restrict homosexual people from donating blood if they have been sexually active within the past one year

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Gay Pride Flag. Image source:jarridwilson.com
  • Government turned away thousands of people including homosexuals who wanted to donate blood after the Orlando Shooting
  • The Federal ban policy was put in place in the 1980s during the AIDS epidemic, and it barred gay and bisexual men 
  • FDA ban excludes the remaining 85 percent of gay men who would be suitable and safe blood donors

Thousands of people, including homosexuals, lined up to donate blood after the Orlando nightclub shooting. However, due to US government laws, they were turned away. The laws restrict homosexual people from donating blood if they have been sexually active within the past one year.

This caused anger and resentment among the gays. They are calling for the lifting of this federal ban.

Candlelight vigil for the Orlando nightclub shooting held at Morningside Park in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Wikimedia commons
Candlelight vigil for the Orlando nightclub shooting held at Morningside Park in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Wikimedia commons

The policy was put in place in the 1980s during the AIDS epidemic, and it barred gay and bisexual men from donating blood out of fear that they were at high risk of being HIV-positive and could contaminate the blood supply.

Last year in 2015, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration revised the policy, allowing contributions provided the gay men had been celibate for one year.

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Scientific developments

Public health advocates, who argued for lifting the blood donation ban last year in 2015, say the policy does not keep pace with some recent scientific developments to safeguard the blood supply against HIV.

Sean Cahill, director of health policy research at the Fenway Institute in Boston, said the revised policy is still unfair. The Fenway Institute does public health advocacy on behalf of the LGBT community.

According to Cahill, the so-called nucleic acid test is now available to detect the presence of HIV in a pint of blood in less than two weeks, compared with the months it used to take. The test is performed on all blood samples to make sure they don’t contain the virus.

Cahill said the second development involves a method of destroying most pathogens in blood, be they bacteria or viruses, including the AIDS virus.

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“Even if somehow an HIV-positive unit of blood gets through the systems that are in place, this pathogen inactivation technology could destroy the HIV in that unit of blood,” Cahill said.

Cahill said the one-year ban doesn’t allow for those males who are in monogamous relationships or who are happily married and are HIV-negative.

People in other high-risk groups are not barred from giving blood, according to Cahill. These individuals include those who have intercourse with sex workers, or intravenous drug abusers who may be donating blood in exchange for money to buy drugs.

Call for updated policy

Cahill called for a more refined blood donation policy.

“We would really like to see a policy that … distinguishes between high-risk gay and bisexual men and low-risk gay and bisexual men, and actually looks at individual risk as opposed to looking at people as members of groups.”

Cahill explained that 15 percent of gay men are HIV-positive in the U.S., but the FDA ban excludes the remaining 85 percent of gay men who would be suitable and safe blood donors. He also said that the supply of banked blood nationwide would increase by 2%-4% if this ban was lifted. He explained that it would also ease the social stigma that the gays feel in US.

prepared by Devika Todi (with inputs from VOA), an intern at NewsGram. Twitter: devika_todi

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Discrimination and Impunity Cannot be Tolerated: Angelina Jolie

The hollywood star also donated $200,000 to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund

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Angelina Jolie
Hollywood star Angelina Jolie feels discrimination and impunity cannot be justified in any way. WIkimedia Commons

Hollywood star Angelina Jolie feels discrimination and impunity cannot be justified in any way, and says she hopes people in the US can come together to “address the deep structural wrongs in our society”, according to entertainment news.

The Oscar-winning star, who turned 45 on Thursday, also donated $200,000 to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, reports a website named People.

“Rights don’t belong to any one group to give to another. Discrimination and impunity cannot be tolerated, explained away or justified. I hope we can come together as Americans to address the deep structural wrongs in our society,” Jolie said.

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“I stand with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund in their fight for racial equality, social justice, and their call for urgent legislative reform,” she added.

Meanwhile, the actress celebrated her birthday amid lockdown with her six children — Maddox, 18, Pax, 16, Zahara, 15, Shiloh, 14, and 11-year-old twins Knox and Vivienne.

The actress and activist has been active since the COVID-19 pandemic spread around the world and has donated to different organisations.

Jolie
“Rights don’t belong to any one group to give to another. Discrimination and impunity cannot be tolerated, explained away or justified.”, Jolie was quoted saying. Pixabay

Jolie previously donated $1 million to No Kid Hungry, the organisation working to feed children during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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“I knew that there were problems in America, that there was poverty, but I could not believe when I realised how many school children in America were dependent on a meal to not go hungry. I was so disgusted that we have gotten to this point as a country and that we would let the most vulnerable be in such a state. I can’t imagine what it feels like for those parents,” she said while opening up about her reason to get associated with the organisation. (IANS)

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Critically-ill Corona Patients Have Less Mortality Rate in US: Researchers

The previous report suggested 50 per cent mortality rate in US

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mortality rate
Researchers claim that the mortality rate of US adults with critical illness from Covid-19 is less than what was released in the previous report. Pixabay

Researchers have claimed that the actual mortality rate of adults with critical illness from Covid-19 in the US is less than what was previously reported according to COVID-19 Information & Resources.

The study, published in the journal Critical Care Medicine, also indicated that the mortality rate of critically ill Covid-19 patients who required mechanical ventilation is also lower than previously thought.

For the results, the research team from the Emory University in the US, observed 217 critically ill patients 18 years and older from six Covid-19 designated intensive care units in three hospitals in Atlanta from March to April 2020.

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Compared to earlier reports of a 50 per cent mortality rate, the study revealed that the mortality rate of critically ill patients who required mechanical ventilation was only 35.7 per cent.

According to the study authors, about 60 per cent of patients observed in the study survived to hospital discharge.

mortality rate
In this study, it was revealed that the mortality rate of critically ill patients was only 35.7% in the US. Pixabay

The findings showed that 4.8 per cent of patients still on the ventilator at the time of the report.

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Mortality was significantly associated with older age, lower body mass index, chronic renal disease, and receipt of mechanical ventilation, vasopressors, renal replacement therapy, or vasodilator therapy.

The authors noted that several considerations may have influenced the outcomes of the study including that all critically ill patients with Covid-19 in the hospital network were admitted to pre-existing ICUs that had adequate staffing ratios and equipment.

“Our early experience indicates that many patients survive their critical illness,” the authors concluded. (IANS)

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COVID Warriors Organize Blood Donation Camp, Fight Pandemic with Sweat and Blood

Healthcare workers at the forefront of the war against COVID war are not only saving human lives but are also organizing blood donation drives

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Blood donation camps during pandemic organized by AIIMS follow strict distancing protocols. Pixabay

BY SFOORTI MISHRA

At a time when the entire country is battling the novel coronavirus, the healthcare workers at the forefront of the war against the pandemic are not only facing the challenges in saving human lives but are also donating blood for the needy, as blood donation has dried up during the lockdown.

The doctors, nurses and technicians of Delhi’s All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) have been organising blood donation camps and are donating blood more frequently than ever amid the COVID-19 outbreak in the country. On Sunday, May 31, this will be the 9th blood donation camp during the pandemic. The camp will be organised by the doctors, partnering with some NGOs. One such organisation is National Medicos Organisation which has organised eight blood donation camps in the last two months in Delhi with 629 donations under “Rakta-Dhara” Abhiyan.

All camps were held in large halls with adequate distancing, hand hygiene and sanitization measures. Healthcare workers used proper PPEs in these camps. Four of these camps were in association with AIIMS blood bank, while one each with RML hospital, GTB hospital, Hindu Rao and Swami Dayanand hospital. Saksham, another NGO which collaborated with the technicians, has organised at least 17 blood donation camps during the lockdown.

Speaking to IANS, Dr Amit Malviya, Senior Resident at the AIIMS and Blood donation drive coordinator said, “Our upcoming blood donation camp is on May 31, at armed forces transfusion centre (AFTC) from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. I want to appeal to all voluntary donors residing nearby to come up for blood donation for our army jawans and their family members.” He also said that all the donors should wear proper masks and follow distancing and hand hygiene while visiting the camp or blood bank for the donation.

Blood donation
The doctors, nurses and technicians of Delhi’s All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) have been organising blood donation camps. Pixabay

Emphasizing on the significance of the blood donation amid a pandemic, the doctor said, “Due to lockdown many regular voluntary donors and relatives of patients have been facing difficulties to reach the blood banks for donations. Apart from it, some degree of fear of COVID in public may have reduced motivation of voluntary donors in reaching the hospitals. Therefore, it becomes even more important for everyone including the healthcare workers to donate blood.”

He also said that the hospitals, besides managing the pandemic, are also performing several emergency surgeries, cancer surgeries and surgeries of patients suffering road traffic accident and trauma cases. All these surgeries require transfusion of blood and blood products. Also patients of Thalassemia, Aplastic Anemia, other Hematological disorders, blood cancers regularly require blood transfusion.

There are many myths about the blood donation due to the pandemic in the country. People think whether they should visit or avoid visiting blood banks or donation camps fearing contracting the disease. To this, Malviya said, “Blood banks and blood donation facilities are usually located in a different block or wing of the hospital. The staff and doctors working in the blood bank are not the ones working in COVID wards. Donation rooms are sanitized at regular intervals and after each donation.” He also added that blood donation camps during pandemic follow strict distancing protocols.

“Camps are usually held in large halls like auditoriums, schools, resorts with adequate distancing between donation beds. Doctors and health-care workers use appropriate N95 masks, gowns and face shields as PPEs. All donors also wear masks and are provided with hand sanitizers. Therefore there is nothing to fear.” The doctor said that COVID-19 screening of donors is done prior to donation. This includes thermal scanning, history of contact with known positives, travel to certain countries, residence in hotspots, 4 to 6 weeks fever or COVID symptoms free interval.

Blood Donation
The camp will be organised by the doctors, partnering with some NGOs. Pixabay

Dr Ila Varsi, Consultant in the Neurology at AIIMS, told IANS that she is a regular donor, just like most doctors at the AIIMS. She said that at least 5 to 8 doctors are voluntarily donating blood every day.

“Doctors and healthcare workers donate blood regularly or whenever required, as we are the immediate donor pool available in the hospital setup. I donate blood every third month and plan to donate next in the blood donation camp organized by the National Medicos Organization on May 31 at Army blood bank. A Nursing Officer Kanishk Yadav at the AIIMS told IANS that the nursing officers at AIIMS are regular donors and continue to do so in pandemic too.

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“We had organized a blood donation camp in AIIMS on International Nurses day on May 12. Few nursing officers at AIIMS started a blood donation camp initiative 2 years ago under the banner of Rajasthani Mitra mandal (RMM) which have organized eighteen camps in two years and two camps during lockdown,” said Yadav.(IANS)