82 lawmakers ask Obama administration to lift gay blood ban

Wed. August 7, 2013 7:59 AM by OnTopMag.com

Washington, DC - 81 Democrats and 1 Republican are calling on the Obama administration to lift its ban on gay men donating blood.

Senators Tammy Baldwin, a Democrat from Wisconsin, Mike Enzi, a Republican from Wyoming, and Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat from Massachusetts, were among the lawmakers signing on to a letter urging Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to re-evaluate the policy, which they called "outdated."

Related: Quigley continues leading efforts to revise discriminatory blood donation policy

Under the current policy, the FDA imposes a lifetime ban on men who have had a sexual relationship with another man since 1977 from donating blood. But the agency only excludes people who have engaged in heterosexual sexual activity with a person known to have HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, for one year.

Gay rights groups say the policy creates an unfair double standard and that it stigmatizes gay men.

"Since the beginning of the HIV/AIDS epidemic more than 30 years ago, the scientific community's understanding of the virus has changed dramatically," the lawmakers stated.

"We have seen vast advances in blood screening technology, blood donation policy changes in other countries allowing MSM [men who have sex with men] to donate, and opposition from our nation's blood banks who have called the current ban 'medically and scientifically unwarranted.'"

"Our current policies turn away healthy, willing donors, even when we face serious blood shortages. Further, the existing lifetime ban continues to perpetuate inaccurate stereotypes against gay and bisexual men, and fosters an atmosphere that promotes discrimination."

Last year, HHS decided against recommending lifting the ban to the FDA.

Article provided in partnership with On Top Magazine