Two Sex Partners is Too Many When it Comes to Organ Donation

December 8, 2011  |  

With the donor pool as slim as it is, and the waiting list as long as it is, I’m surprised that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would propose such a limiting provision in its new set of health guidelines.

Under the proposed policy, people who’ve had sex with two or more people in the past year will be placed in a high-risk donor category, noting the increased potential for spreading HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C. Have things gotten that bad?

Let’s be honest, if this policy is enforced, it would severely limit the number of low-risk donors in the matching system, and transplant experts recognize this too.

“With the new guidelines, every college student in America will be high-risk,” Dr. Harry Dorn-Arias, a transplant surgeon at the University of Virginia, told msnbc.com. “Right now, it’s probably a prostitute or a guy with a needle in his arm. Next time, it will be just a young guy.”

The policy could also have an adverse effect on patient’s willingness to be transplanted, said Tracy Giacoma, transplant administrator at the University of Kansas Hospital. “It’s probably going to triple what we consider high risk at this point. It may scare patients off from taking these organs. More patients may die because they don’t take these organs.”

Obviously, the CDC says it’s first priority is safety, and that patients should know whether they are receiving an organ with elevated risk, but better screening methods to determine individual risk would be much better than blanketing everyone who’s had more than two partners in a year as high-risk.

Do you think the CDC’s proposed policy is too restrictive? Would you take an organ from someone who was labeled high-risk because they had more than two sexual partners in a year?

Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.


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