Miyashita Ochoa on Outdated Blood Ban for Gay Men

Adjunct Assistant Professor of Social Welfare Ayako Miyashita Ochoa spoke to North Carolina Health News about policies that continue to bar some gay men from donating blood. Miyashita Ochoa explained that at the beginning of the AIDS epidemic, there was no test for HIV or AIDS, and scientists weren’t sure how it was transmitted. “The policy itself was a reflection of that,” she said. “It also obviously targeted specifically the populations that were hardest hit by HIV and AIDS.” Over time, the policies endured despite advances in science. Miyashita Ochoa pointed out that a lot has changed since the 1980s, including what we know about HIV transmission and the efficacy of prevention measures. To combat a shortage in the blood supply caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the FDA relaxed restrictions in 2020 to include men who have not had sex with men for three months. Advocates, however, argue for an end to all bans of gay and bisexual men.

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