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Sen. Kerry leads group calling for FDA to end ban on gays donating blood

Thursday, March 4, 2010


Senator John F. Kerry of Massachusetts called today for the Food and Drug Administration to lift a “discriminatory” ban on gay men donating blood.

Kerry led a group of 18 senators — 17 Democrats and one independent — who sent a letter to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, urging her to lift the lifetime ban on men who have engaged in homosexual relationships since 1977.

“Not a single piece of scientific evidence supports the ban,” the Democratic senator said in a statement.

“A law that was once considered medically justified is today simply outdated and needs to end, just as last year we ended the travel ban against those with HIV.”

The American Red Cross and other health organizations support ending the ban, saying the law is “medically and scientifically unwarranted.”

“All donated blood is mandated to be tested for HIV with two different, highly accurate tests. Between these two tests, the risk of tainted blood entering the blood supply undetected is virtually zero,” said Kerry’s office.

The FDA, in a statement, defended the ban and said 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.”

The ban, enacted at the height of the HIV/AIDS crisis, bars men who have ever had sex with other men after 1977 from donating blood.

Read Sen. Kerry’s thoughtful essay at Bay Windows.

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4 more reader comments:

  1. WOW!!! Thank you Mister Senator!

    I really had no idea that these laws were in place. Do we really need to ban people from traveling if they have HIV? I really don’t think so.

    Do we also have to ban blood donations from HIV- men? We have tests for such things today that we didn’t have when this law was enacted.

    Posted on Thursday, March 4, 2010 at 9:40pm
  2. I didn’t know this law existed either! Don’t they test blood for diseases prior to adding it to the bank? I can’t imagine that they actively ask donors, “Hey, you’re not a gay man are you?”

    Posted on Sunday, March 21, 2010 at 10:21am
  3. Before you donate blood, they ask you a series of questions and one of the questions on there is “Are you homosexual?” It’s ridiculous! There is no scientific evidence that says gay men get HIV more than any other person. It’s like saying black people can’t donate blood because people in Africa have HIV/AIDS. It is a stupid law and they need to get rid of it.

    Posted on Thursday, March 25, 2010 at 3:53pm
  4. and if you are a woman, they ask you if you have slept with a homosexual man or a man who may have participated in homosexual sex. at least they do in wv!

    Posted on Thursday, November 4, 2010 at 9:46pm