FDA Decision More Like 1977, Not 2007

by HRC Staff

WASHINGTON - Yesterday, the Food and Drug Administration announced on their website that the current lifetime ban on donating blood will remain in effect for gay and bisexual men. In March 2006, the American Association of Blood Banks, America's Blood Centers and the American Red Cross testified before the FDA that the lifetime ban for men who have sex with men "is medically and scientifically unwarranted" and that "it does not appear rational to broadly differentiate sexual transmission via male-to-male sexual activity from that via heterosexual activity on scientific grounds."

"Yesterday's affirmation of this policy by the FDA reflects a commitment to prejudice over science," said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. "Our nation's leading blood services organizations agree that there is no rational justification for treating gay and bisexual men differently than straight men. Given modern testing and the fact that anyone can be vulnerable to infection, there is no medical or scientific rationale for this discriminatory policy.

"Natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina and the threat of catastrophic terrorist attack make our nation's need for a robust and safe blood supply even more acute. The real public health threat is closing the door on countless numbers of men who selflessly want to donate blood. We are extremely disappointed that the Food and Drug Administration chose not to heed the advice of the Red Cross and other groups and put science and our nation's security over misguided prejudice."

The FDA policy dictates that even a single incident of MSM (men who have sex with men) activity since 1977 places that potential donor on a lifetime deferral list, a policy that was established in the early days of the HIV/AIDS epidemic before the advent of sophisticated DNA and serologic testing mechanisms that eliminate the risk of introducing HIV and other harmful agents into the general blood supply.

The Human Rights Campaign is America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against GLBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

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