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Lasell Junior to Testify at Health and Human Services Hearing on Blood Safety Policy

November 05, 2015

Lasell Junior Jay Franzone will travel to Washington DC to participate in a Health and Human Services Advisory Committee on Blood and Tissue Safety and Availability (ACBTSA) on November 9 and 10. Franzone will testify about the importance of policy changes that would allow gay and bisexual men to donate blood.

At this meeting Franzone plans to present findings from a variety of medical researchers in support of policy changes that would allow gay men to give blood after a deferral period. This is Franzone's second consecutive year attending the meeting. Last year he shared his personal story of frustration when, as a gay man, he was prevented from giving blood to help his dying uncle who needed a transfusion.

"This is an opportunity to challenge fear and stigma. I look forward to providing the medical research to support the need for policy change," Franzone said.

Outside of school, Franzone serves as the Communications Director of the National Gay Blood Drive, a nation-wide effort to bring attention to the ban against gay/bisexual men donating blood and to increase pressure on the Food and Drug Administration to lift it.

The FDA issued a draft guidance in May 2015 that would change the current lifetime deferral of MSM to a 12-month deferral. This change in policy would align the donor deferral period for MSM with criteria for other activities that may pose a similar risk of transfusion-transmissible infections.
No plans have yet been created as to how to implement this draft guidance.

The ACBTSA provides advice to the HHS Secretary through the Assistant Secretary for Health. The Committee advises on a range of policy issues including blood safety. This meeting will provide a focused examination of the mechanisms to fund recently approved blood safety innovations, such as pathogen reduction, bacterial testing, and infectious disease testing.

Franzone, who hopes to encourage the implementation of a deferral period individualized to the donor and their risk, noted that France lifted its ban on gay men donating blood on November 4. That country plans to allow men who have not been sexually active with other men in the preceding 12 months to be able to donate blood. Gay men who have had only one partner for the preceding four months, or who have not been sexually active, will be able to donate blood plasma.