Senator John F. Kerry of Massachusetts called today for the Food and Drug Administration to lift a “discriminatory” ban on gay men donating blood.
“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 “A law that was once considered medically justified is today simply outdated and needs to end, just as last year we ended the travel ban against those with HIV.”
Kerry was one 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.
The FDA defended the ban.
"The agency understands and respects the desire of everyone, including MSM [men who have sex with men] to donate blood and save lives,” the FDA said in a statement. “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 lifetime ban on blood donation by gay men was put in place in 1983, at the height of uncertainty regarding the AIDS epidemic.
Kerry said that the FDA already tests donated blood twice for HIV and other diseases, limiting the risk of tainted blood entering the blood supply to nearly zero.
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