Thursday, May 05, 2005

This is not the first time I've criticized the FDA for an idiotic decision

and I'm sure it won't be the last. The only good thing about being able to criticze this (and the BS over EC) is the fact it's a criticism not related to work. The FDA has decided implement new regulations to prevent men from anonymous sperm donation if they've been sexually intimate with another man in the 5 years prior to donation.

The decision is based on a misguided belief that, since the HIV infection rate is higher among men who admit to sexual relations with other men, a man who admits to any sexually intimate interaction with another man in the past 5 years must automatically be ruled out as a donor, while men who do not admit to this exposure and/or those with other high risk exposure will not automatically be excluded from the donor pool.

AIDS cases related to heterosexual contact represent an increasing proportion of cases in North America. Heterosexual contact is the most common mode of transmission among women diagnosed with AIDS in the U.S., and has doubled as a proportion of female AIDS cases in Canada since 1991. While a large proportion of these cases reported sexual contact with an IDU, a substantial proportion of women who acquired their infection heterosexually were unaware of their partner's risk status. In addition to injection drug use, the use of crack cocaine in the United States has been associated with an increased risk of HIV transmission through sexual contact in both urban areas and the rural South.

Between 1990 and 1995, the average HIV prevalence among heterosexual men and women attending STD clinics in North America changed little. However, the seroprevalence rates of heterosexual men and women in New York, Miami and Washington, DC, grew by 5 percent or more.
Many people assume that sexual transmission is primarily through anal sex and that men on the receiving end are gay. From my own interactions with many heterosexual men (and I mean, "homosexuality is wrong", conservative/republican men), there seem to be a lot of them
who are not only into anal sex but express interest in being penetrated themselves. Many heterosexual men also engage in risky (heterosexual) activies that put them at high risk of sexually transmitted diseases many of which can facilitate HIV infection.

Additionally, quite a few of the sperm donors are students, including medical and life-science graduate students which increases risk exposure through work/school.
"The FDA is very much aware that strict exclusion policies eliminate some safe donors,' said one document."
If the FDA wants to increase safety, they should insist on mandated HIV testing of all germ cell donors (sperm and ova) at the time of donation and 6 months post harvesting (the cells should remain frozen until then) instead of exluding donors a priori based on admitted sexual activity.

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