Committee Recommendation on Change to Blood Donation Ban Continues to Stigmatize Gay & Bisexual Men

by Stephen Peters

WASHINGTON - Today, the Human Rights Campaign, (HRC), the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, reacted to the decision by the nation’s Advisory Committee on Blood and Tissue Safety Availability (ACBTSA) which met to review the latest research on the current ban on blood donation from gay and bisexual men. The committee concluded that it would be reasonable to move to a deferral based policy utilizing a one year period of abstinence from same-sex sexual activity.

"This recommendation -- although nominally better than the existing policy -- falls far short because it continues to stigmatize gay and bisexual men, preventing them from donating life-saving blood based solely on their sexual orientation,” said David Stacy, HRC’s Government Affairs Director. “The current policy, adopted in the earliest days of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and the new recommendation are both simply wrong and can no longer be justified in light of scientific research and updated blood screening technology. It’s far past time for this stigma to end.”

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.

The committee’s recommendation will be made to the Blood Products Advisory Committee which will meet in December. That advisory committee will in turn make recommendations to the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. If the Secretary decides to move forward with a change to the current ban, formal rulemaking from the Administration will be required.

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been actively engaged for many years in working with the Administration, Congress, and other stakeholders to end the outdated policy banning gay and bisexual men from donating blood.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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