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Blood Drive Canceled Over Rejection of Haitian Donors

February 15, 1990

MIAMI (AP) _ Officials at a Roman Catholic high school in Miami’s Little Haiti area canceled a blood drive after learning Haitian donors were not welcome.

″I have no problem with their blood being rejected after being tested but to single out a group, that takes me aback,″ said Brother Genaro Sulo, principal of Archbishop Curley-Notre Dame High School. ″It seems to be saying that all Haitians have AIDS.″

The exclusion is required under a federal Food and Drug Administration policy that bars people born in or emigrating from Haiti and certain parts of Africa as blood donors, said FDA spokesman Brad Stone.

A previous FDA policy banned donations from Haitians who arrived in the United States after 1977 when the deadly virus first was detected in the U.S. The Miami chapter of the American Red Cross changed its guidelines to comply with the revised FDA rule Tuesday.

The national Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta stopped listing Haitians as a high-risk group for the transmission of AIDS in 1985 after the extent of the disease in the world population became known, but CDC still discourages Haitians from donating blood.

Acquired immune deficiency syndrome is caused by a virus carried in blood. Heterosexual activity is believed to be the prime means of transmission in Haiti.

School officials learned of the guidelines last week when senior Lisa Henry, the blood drive leader, was recruiting students. A teacher told her that some Haitians had been rejected last year.

It was learned that 25 of the 138 volunteers wouldn’t be allowed to participate under the FDA’s mandatory rules. When Sulo heard that the students would be turned away, he called off Tuesday’s blood drive.

″Our hands are tied,″ said Christopher Chidley, spokesman for the Red Cross in Miami. ″It is not something we look forward to doing. It’s going to be harder for us to collect blood.″

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