Miyashita Ochoa on History of Discriminatory Blood Donation Ban

Adjunct Assistant Professor of Social Welfare Ayako Miyashita Ochoa wrote an article in the Regulatory Review about the inconsistencies between current blood donation deferral policies and modern scientific knowledge. At the height of the HIV epidemic, the FDA implemented a blood donation deferral for all men who have had sex with men in the last year. Miyashita Ochoa explained that, “at the time, exercising extreme caution was the wisest course of action” since scientists didn’t know how the virus was transmitted. However, the policy continued for decades, even as scientists learned more about HIV transmission and improved blood screening techniques. In April 2020, the FDA decreased the deferral period from 12 months to three months. While this was a step in the right direction, “it does not reflect the latest science,” Miyashita Ochoa said. She called on the United States to address HIV and gay-related stigma. “The FDA’s policies must harness truths based on science rather than fear.”

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