HRC Blog

Key Committee Hearing Scheduled to Consider Ending 27 Year Ban on Blood Donations

Today the Human Rights Campaign reaffirmed our call for an end to the ban on blood donations by men who have sex with men, upon news that a key committee will hold a hearing on the subject next month.  The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Advisory Committee on Blood Safety and Availability will meet on Thursday and Friday, June 10 and 11, 2010 to discuss the ban according to a meeting notice posted today in the Federal Register [pdf].  HRC will offer testimony at the hearing and will send a letter with coalition allies urging a revision to the policy. HRC President Joe Solmonese said:

"The longstanding blood ban cannot be justified by today’s science. In 2010, we cannot continue to turn away healthy donors based on outdated stereotypes and a decades-old understanding of HIV and AIDS."

Under a federal rule adopted in 1983, any man who has had sex with another man since 1977, even once, is banned for life from donating blood.  Blood donation policy is set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and agencies that collect blood donations, such as the American Red Cross, are bound by it.  HRC has comprehensive history and other resources posted about the ban on its website at www.hrc.org/BloodBan. For years, we have urged the FDA to revise this policy – formulated during the height of the AIDS crisis – which does not reflect the most up-to-date understanding of HIV transmission, unnecessarily stigmatizes gay and bisexual men, and turns away healthy potential donors.  HRC included lifting the blood donation ban as part of our Blueprint for Positive Change, a series of policy recommendations to the Obama administration. In March, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), in response to a letter from Senator John Kerry (D-MA) and seventeen other Senators, announced they would review this long-standing policy during the now-scheduled meeting of the Advisory Committee on Blood Safety and Availability this summer.

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