U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin — not for nothing, the first openly gay Senator ever — rallied 84 other Democrats for a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius urging for an end to the lifetime ban on gay men donating blood.
“Our current policies turn away healthy, willing donors, even when we face serious blood shortages,” the Dems wrote. “Furthermore, the existing lifetime ban continues to perpetuate inaccurate stereotypes against gay and bisexual men, and fosters an atmosphere that promotes discrimination and discourages individuals from seeking HIV and treatment services.”
The Food and Drug Administration initiated the ban in 1983 in response to the AIDS epidemic; though by the FDA’s own admission, the risk of getting HIV from a blood transfusion nowadays has been reduced to about one per two million units of blood. In June, the American Medical Association voted to reject the FDA’s ban, calling it “discriminatory and not based on sound science.”
In 2010, a Health and Human Services committee recommended keeping the ban until more research was done. Then in March of last year, the HHS launched a review of the ban, but it has yet to recommend any policy changes. Baldwin and the other lawmakers cite the AMA’s decision as an “even greater impetus for the HHS to move swiftly with its research and revision of the current ban.”
You can read the letter in full below: