Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Can You Donate Plasma With an STD?

Current FDA regulations state that donors must be in general good health, over 18 years old, and free of blood-borne infections and illnesses to donate plasma. This means that donors can't donate with active cases of STD's like gonorrhea, HIV/AIDS, and syphilis.

You can donate plasma with certain other STD's, though. This is what plasma regulations say about the most commonly spread infections:


Symptoms Include:

  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Increase or appearance of night sweats
  • Increase vulnerability to infection
  • Purple "bags" or bruising under the eyes
  • Extreme unexplained fatigue lasting more than 2 weeks

HIV  is the most serious, terminal STD. HIV antibodies take 6 weeks to form, so you can't donate plasma if you've been in situations that put you risk of contracting AIDS.

You can't donate plasma if you've ever your "services" for money, taken illicit drugs, are a male who has had contact with another male (even once), have visited high risk countries (like parts of Europe and Africa) for more than 3 months, or been in lockup/jail for 72 hours.

Additionally, you must wait for 6 months after getting a tattoo or peircing to donate plasma - no matter how reputable your tattoo joint. If you ever contract AIDS or HIV, you are permanently deferred from donating plasma and blood.

To check your status on the permanent donor deferral list, click here.

Herpes: Yes.

Symptoms Include:

  • Tingling, itching, or burning of the mouth or genitals
  • Appearance of albumin-filled blisters
  • Problems passing urine
  • Symptoms similar to pink-eye (herpes keratitis)

You can donate plasma with a herpes infection. More than 80% of US adults are infected with some strain of the herpes simplex virus. Because the herpes virus lies dormant in skin cell nuclei - not the blood - FDA regulations state that even actively infected herpes patients may donate plasma at no risk to themselves or others.

However, plasma donation robs your body of precious proteins needed to fight infection. So put off plasma donation after your outbreak is finished, or you risk prolonging the infection.

Hepatitis A: Yes, kind of.

Hepatitis A is a liver disease which is transmitted from infected persons or unsafe drinking water. Unlike B and C, hepatitis A is not chronic, and symptoms usually disappear within a month.

You can donate plasma if you had hepatitis A before the age of 11, and were since cured of the disease. The reasoning is that the virus lays dormant in a potential donor's blood for 7 years, after which it dissipates. Since nobody under age 18 can donate plasma, all legal donors 18 and above should be clear of active hepatitis A cases for 7 years.

If you were infected with Hep A at age 12 (seriously, what were you doing??) or older, talk to your local donation center. There are no federal regulations on hepatitis positive plasma donors, so plasma banks make their own sets of rules.

Hepatitis B: Yes, Definitely!

Unlike Hep A, hepatitis B is chronic, meaning it never fully goes away - after about a year, however, patients do stop experiencing symptoms. 

But as far as plasma donation goes, being hepatitis B infected is a good thing! If you have ever been infected with this strain of hepatitis, your may have the minimum number of antibodies in your blood required to make life-saving hepatitis B vaccines.

Here's how it works:
  1. You must have been free of outbreaks for at least 1 year.
  2. You must inform the plasma center that you're hep B positive.
  3. The blood bank or center will test your blood's per/ML level of antibodies.
  4. If you qualify, you will be invited to the elite hepatitis B donor program.
  5. After this, you'll receive anti-B shots each week.
  6. Your blood will be tested monthly, to ensure it still contains the minimum number of required antibodies. 
 So, will I get more money for this? Unfortunately, no. You'll still receive the standard donor's pay. However, the plasma center will get more for your plasma. Normally, plasma centers receive $1,000 or more for each bottle of plasma turned into medicine. Hep B vaccine plasma, however, can fetch more than $4,000 per bottle.

You will get the satisfaction of saving lives by creating a necessary vaccine though. And in the end, isn't that enough?

Hepatitis C: No.

Symptoms include:

  • Severe stomach pain
  • Joint pain
  • All-over itchiness
  • Swollen stomach
  • Brown or dark colored urine
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes)
  • Trouble passing urine

It is spread through contact with bodily fluids, via sharing needles, or in babies, drinking infected breast milk.

Unlike the virus strains HAV and HBV, HCV (hepatitis C) is directly fatal. It kills up to 30% of infected patients through complications like cirrhosis or hepatitis induced liver cancer.

Also, unlike hepatitis B, there is no vaccine. Because of the fatal, highly infection nature of hepatitis C, and the lack of a vaccine, HepC STD patients can't legally donate plasma.

Cold Sore: Yes.

You can donate plasma with a cold sore on your lip - as long as you're treating it with visible white herpes simplex cream, or the sore has already crusted or dried over.

Why can't you donate with an active cold sore infection? Cross-contamination. With an active cold sore, there's a chance (however small) that you or a nurse might come in contact with your lip, then touch the donor site.

This would contaminate the plasma supply, and risk infection of the plasma recipients.

In other words: just stay home with your active cold sore, and you can donate plasma in 1-2 days or a week when it clears up.

Gonorrhea and Syphillis: Yes.  

Plasma centers don't test your blood for these STD's during the screening (like they do with HIV, and hepatitis B and C) - you're on the honor system to tell them.

So if you know you have the clap, please don't go and infect innocent people getting plasma therapy.

You can donate plasma once your syphilis has been successfully treated with bacterial antibiotics, however, and 12 months has passed since your infection.

Chlamydia: Yes.

Symptoms of this STD include:

  • Burning or discolored urine
  • Trouble passing urine
  • Yellowish-green discharge (in both men and women)
  • Sharp lower abdominal pain
  • Stomach tenderness and queasiness
  • Sudden male testicle pain

You cannot donate plasma with an active case of chlamydia. But you can donate if you've been treated for the disease with a 7 day course of oral antibiotics (like penicillin or amoxicillin), and have been clear of flare ups for 60 days. 

The 60 day waiting period is required by ZLB plasma. But check with your local center, because some places, like CSL plasma, require donors to be free of transmitted infections for at least 6 months.

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (Endometritis): Yes.

Symptoms Include: 

  • Dull abdominal pain (mild cases)
  • Inflammation (confirmed through ultrasound) of the fallopian tubes, ovaries, or uterus
  • General sense of unease
  • Yellowish or burning discharge
  • Infertility (extreme cases)

Pelvic inflammatory disease isn't an STD itself. It's caused by bacteria entering the cervix from untreated cases of other STD's, like gonorrhea and chlamydia. It can also last chronically, long after the bacterial STD's are cured.

Because PID isn't a blood-borne virus, women with pelvic inflammatory disease are allowed to donate plasma with no restrictions. However, plasma donation causes dehydration, which makes abdominal cramping worse, so if you're suffering from PID, drink plenty of water before you do donate.

Genital Warts: Yes.

Gential warts are caused by untreated strains of HPV. They can appear on the nether regions, hands, feet, or even lead to facial warts. Because the strain of HPV that causes warts is spread by skin-skin contact (not through blood, saliva, or other bodily fluids) people with this common STD can donate plasma.

HPV (Human Papillomavirus): Yes.

HPV infects over 90% of intimately active adults. It causes symptoms such as genital or facial warts, abnormal cervical growths, and cancer. The best thing you can do to protect yourself is to get a Human Papillomavirus vaccine before becoming active.

What if you're already infected? Can you donate plasma? Yes, you can donate plasma. HPV is a skin-central retrovirus, and doesn't travel through the blood. Therefore, HPV patients are welcome to donate blood or plasma at any time.


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