Gay Men and the Gift of Life

April 16, 2010

A group of 18 senators have proposed to reverse a policy that imposes a lifetime ban on donating blood for men who have had any gay sex since 1977. In writing to the FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, the lawmakers stressed that the science has dramatically changed since the ban was established in 1983 at the emergence of the HIV/AIDS crisis.1

A group of 18 senators have proposed to reverse a policy that imposes a lifetime ban on donating blood for men who have had any gay sex since 1977. In writing to the FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, the lawmakers stressed that the science has dramatically changed since the ban was established in 1983 at the emergence of the HIV/AIDS crisis.1

The senators argue that today, donated blood undergoes 2 different, highly accurate tests that make the risk of tainted blood entering the blood supply virtually zero. At a time when US blood supplies run shockingly low, “healthy blood donors are turned away every day due to an antiquated policy, and our blood supply is not necessarily any safer for it.”

The senators noted that at an FDA-sponsored workshop in March 2006, the American Red Cross, America’s Blood Centers, and the American Association of Blood Banks reported that the ban is “medically and scientifically unwarranted.” The FDA, however, stated that “while FDA appreciates concerns about perceived discrimination, our decision to maintain the deferral policy is based on current science and data and does not give weight to a donor’s sexual orientation.”

References:

Reference
1. Abrams J. Senators: Lift ban on gays donating blood. March 4, 2010. http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5iYiZd7As5Rs5RboVR9SOJKd8WKcgD9E818582. Accessed March 15, 2010.