Blood Ban Fix Falls Far Short of Acceptable Solution

by Ianthe Metzger

WASHINGTON - Today, the Human Rights Campaign, (HRC), the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, responded to the decision by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to move forward with a long-awaited change to the current scientifically unwarranted blood donation ban on gay and bisexual men. A deferral based policy utilizing a one year period of abstinence from same-sex sexual activity will be implemented, as recommended by the federal Advisory Committee on Blood and Tissue Safety Availability (ACBTSA), tasked with advising the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services.

"While this new policy is movement toward an optimal policy that reflects fundamental fairness and the best scientific research, it falls far short of an acceptable solution because it continues to stigmatize gay and bisexual men, preventing them from donating life-saving blood based solely on their sexual orientation, rather than a policy based on actual risk to the blood supply,” said David Stacy, HRC’s Government Affairs Director. “This new policy cannot be justified in light of current scientific research and updated blood screening technology. We will continue to work towards an eventual outcome that both minimizes risk to the blood supply and treats gay and bisexual men with the respect they deserve.”

The proposed rule change will now proceed through the federal regulatory channels requiring notice and allowing for public comment. Administration officials will initiate that process in 2015.

The American Red Cross, America's Blood Centers, and the American Association of Blood Banks have characterized the blood ban as medically and scientifically unwarranted as far back as 2006. HRC has been actively engaged for many years in working with the Administration, Congress, and other stakeholders to end the outdated policy banning gay and bisexual men from donating blood.

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. HRC envisions a world where LGBT people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.

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