Follow breaking news @lgbtqnation
U.S.Congress

Baldwin leads 85 lawmakers calling for end to blood donation ban for gay men

Friday, August 2, 2013

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin is leading a group of 85 House and Senate lawmakers criticizing what she’s says is the sluggish pace the nation’s top health officials have taken at reevaluating blood donation policies for gay men.

U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.)

The Wisconsin Democrat has sent a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius expressing those concerns and requesting information about the agency’s ongoing efforts to review the policy.

Under current regulations, men who have sex with other men are banned from donating blood for life, a policy put in place during the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s.

“Since the beginning of the HIV/AIDS epidemic more than 30 years ago, the scientific community’s understanding of the virus has changed dramatically. We have seen vast advances in blood screening technology, blood donation policy changes in other countries allowing MSM 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 and discourages individuals from seeking HIV testing and treatment services.”

The letter notes that the American Medical Association has adopted a resolution opposing the Food and Drug Administration’s ban on blood donations by gay men. The organization said the FDA should instead focus on individual risk factors rather than just sexual orientation.

Opponents of the policy also say it needlessly turns away healthy blood donors at times when blood donations are needed.

Others who have signed the bipartisan letter include Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and openly gay members of the U.S. House, Reps. Jared Polis (D-Colo.), David Cicilline (D-R.I.), Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.) and Mark Takano (D-Calif.).

© 2013, Associated Press, All Rights Reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
Share this article with your friends and followers:

Archives: , , , , , , , ,

Filed under: Newsmakers

24 more reader comments:

  1. thank you:)

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 6:59pm
  2. If all blood donations are routinely tested for blood borne disease, why is there even a question as to sexual preference of the donor?

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 7:02pm
  3. I donate anyway, I just lie.

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 7:04pm
  4. I already knew that I loved her for her stance regarding the business/labor/government rules, but now I just love her more!

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 7:05pm
  5. It´s discriminatory, period. If people of all orientations contract HIV and other STIs (and other blood-borne illnesses through needles, etc.) why are only gay men banned from donating blood? It doesn´t make sense, at all. They test the blood repeatedly, so what is the actual argument? This has never made sense to me.

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 7:05pm
  6. Shit I donate blood.! I don´t say I´m gay fck I´m clean.!!!!

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 7:09pm
  7. why is this just directed at gay men..and not including lesbians etc

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 7:11pm
  8. I think it is absolutely ignorant to not allow gay men to donate blood. Btw….is the Red Cross asking everyone´s orientation before they donate?? I don´t remember being asked before I donated at the last blood drive. My son just had a total hip replacement and needed two units of blood after the surgery, I didn´t ask “did that blood come from a straight person?”. I am a former RN and I know that since the HIV scare in the 80´s, the donated blood goes through rigorous testing before it is given to a patient. Come on people, it´s 2013, haven´t you learned that ANYBODY can have HIV??? Restricting gay men from donating is simply rediculous and should be insulting to anyone who has any respect for their fellow human being <3

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 7:13pm
  9. does the ban for ever having gay sex include women? honest question, I can´t remember. I just know the question asks about having ever had MTM sex or sex with someone whose had MTM sex.

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 7:15pm
  10. Current laws ban:

    Men who have had sex with a man since 1978 even once.

    Women who have had sex even once, with a man who has had sex with a man since 1978 even once.

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 7:25pm
  11. Omg, I´m always hearing about blood shortages and THIS is part of the problem! Gay men are human beings too and the question of sexual orientation should not even be asked. EVER!

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 7:42pm
  12. As if LGBT´s are the only human in this world who are capable of doing things they find immoral…..duhhhh….?!?

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 7:52pm
  13. We test all blood anyway for HIV and other infections. We can test gay men´s blood too for the same illnesses. Let us donate!

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 7:54pm
  14. She gets better and better

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 8:02pm
  15. I love her more every day. What an advocate for the common man.

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 8:58pm
  16. An amazing woman. She´s already making a huge difference.

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 11:44pm
  17. How does that even happen???

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 11:49pm
  18. It happened in the early days of AIDS, when it seemed to be a “gay” disease. Fast forward to 2013, and the group with the highest rate of AIDS Dx´s is African American women. Unfortunately, some African American men, who do not consider themselves to be gay but do enjoy having sex with other men, are bringing the HIV virus home to their wives and girlfriends.. Using these statistics, no group should be broadly denied the right to donate blood. ALL blood donors should be tested for the HIV virus, regardless of their sexual orientation.

    Posted on Saturday, August 3, 2013 at 1:42am
  19. @ Elizabeth: exactly. ALL donors should be tested.

    Posted on Saturday, August 3, 2013 at 2:11am
  20. It´s about damn time, too.

    Posted on Saturday, August 3, 2013 at 3:06am
  21. They test the blood on all donations they receive.

    Posted on Saturday, August 3, 2013 at 3:44am
  22. I have never heard any good argument in favor of continuing to ban blood donations from sexually active gay men.

    Posted on Saturday, August 3, 2013 at 4:55am
  23. :)

    Posted on Saturday, August 3, 2013 at 12:58pm
  24. Would have given blood many times over if this idiotic ban didn´t exist.

    Posted on Saturday, August 3, 2013 at 1:31pm