American Medical Association Votes To Reject Federal Ban On Gay Men Donating Blood

US_Navy_080814-N-0486G-006_Bags_and_vials_of_blood_await_processing_during_the_Armed_Services_Blood_Program_(ASBP)_Blood_drive_at_Naval_Station_MayportThe American Medical Association voted Tuesday to oppose the Food and Drug Administration’s 30-year ban on gay men donating blood.

“The lifetime ban on blood donation for men who have sex with men is discriminatory and not based on sound science,” AMA board member Dr. William Kobler said in a statement. “This new policy urges a federal policy change to ensure blood donation bans or deferrals are applied to donors according to their individual level of risk and are not based on sexual orientation alone.”

The FDA initiated the ban in 1983 in response to the AIDS epidemic when little was known about the disease and gay men were the primary victims. Meanwhile, 30 years later and HIV/AIDS testing is standard practice in blood donations to minimize risk and, according to the FDA, the risk of getting HIV from a blood transfusion has been reduced to about one per two million units of blood..

Still the FDA maintains that gay men “are, as a group, at increased risk for HIV, hepatitis B and certain other infections that can be transmitted by transfusion.”

The AMA recommends that the FDA change its policy so that gay men are evaluated on an individual basis rather than lumped together in a high-risk category, in addition to crafting a policy that more accurately represents scientific research.