Science Policy For All

Because science policy affects everyone.

Science Policy Around the Web – November 18, 2014

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By: Kaitlyn Morabito

photo credit: yui.kubo via photopin cc

Federal Science Policy

Panel considers lifting FDA ban on blood donations by gay men

Due to the rise in AIDS in the US and the association with homosexual men at the time, the FDA banned blood donations by gay men in 1985. This ban includes all men who have had sex with another man since 1977. According to the FDA, the rationale behind this ban is that men who have sex with men are at an increased risk of acquisition of HIV, Hepatitis B and other blood-borne pathogens and HIV testing of blood is not 100% accurate. However, proponents of removal of the ban emphasize that risk behavior is not taken into account. Overturning of the sexual orientation based ban is supported by the American Red Cross, AABB, and America’s Blood Centers which supply the major of blood in the US. Many other nations have removed the lifetime ban of gay men in favor of ban on men who have had sex with men within 12 months. A US Department of Health and Human Services Panel is currently debating the lifting of the ban in the US.  (Monte Morin, ScienceNow, LA Times)


Technology Development

U.S. to build two world-class supercomputers

The Department of Energy (DOE) is developing two new supercomputers with 4-10 fold increased computing ability up to speeds of 100-300 petaflops. The work on these supercomputers will be done in two national labs: Oak Ridge and Livermore.   The DOE have set aside $325 million for construction of two supercomputers.   In conjunction with the hardware, the DOE will apply another $100 million to software and application development through the FastForward 2 program. One of the supercomputers will be available for use by the scientific community while the other computer will mainly be utilized by National Nuclear Security Administration.   The DOE hopes that funding of these technological advances will maintain the US as a leader in technology as well as contribute to national security and the economy.  (Robert F. Service, ScienceInsider)


Antibiotic Resistance

Racial disparities in ear infection treatment may contribute to antibiotic overuse

A joint study by the CDC, Emory University, and the University of Utah found that black children are 30% less likely to be diagnosed with ear infections than their non-black counterparts. Of those diagnosed with ear infections, non-black children are 20% more likely to be prescribed broad-spectrum antibiotics than black children. This may indicate that black children are being under diagnosed and under prescribed or that non-black children are being over diagnosed and overprescribed antibiotics.   Regardless of the explanation, this study highlights an important discrepancy between treatment received by black and non-black children indicating a potential bias in physicians. Recently, new guidelines on antibiotic usage for otitis media were released with a focus on reduction in the use of broadspectrum antibiotics to help combat antibiotic resistance.  (Science Daily)


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Written by sciencepolicyforall

November 18, 2014 at 12:00 pm

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