July 17, 2015 at 1:00 pm EDT | by Staff reports
Senate Dems urge FDA to lift gay blood ban
blood ban, gay news, Washington Blade

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) is among lawmakers who asked the FDA to lift the gay ban in the blood donation policy and replace it with a one-year deferral.  (Washington Blade photo by Damien Salas)

WASHINGTON — Senate Democrats are urging the Obama administration to complete the rollback on the lifetime ban on gay and bisexual men donating blood, the Hill reports.

In a letter Tuesday, Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.) and 81 of their congressional colleagues asked the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to lift the ban in the blood donation policy and replace it with a one-year deferral, the Hill article notes.

The rules the FDA has proposed would allow men to donate blood if they’ve abstained from sexual activity with another man for the past 12 months. The same 12-month deferral would apply to women who have sex with men who have sex with other men, the Hill reports.

The ban was originally enacted during the national AIDS epidemic in 1983 and last updated in 1992. Since then, scientific evidence has shown that blood donations from gay men pose no greater risk of spreading AIDS than the general public if properly screened.

Lawmakers want the FDA’s proposed changes to be a first-step toward implementing a risk-based blood donation policy for gay and bisexual men. In the letter they said they want a policy that secures the nation’s blood supply in a non-discriminatory, scientifically sound manner, the Hill reports.

“Neither our current blood donation policy, nor the proposed one year deferral for MSM, allows the many healthy gay and bisexual men across America to donate blood,” they wrote. “This serves to perpetuate the stereotype that all men who have sex with men pose a risk to the health of others.”

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