Tammy Baldwin And 84 Other Democrats Call For End Of Gay Ban On Blood Donations

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_MayportU.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:

[scribd id=157652465 key=key-203p0zohcp9zhlwtpzw6 mode=scroll]

Get Queerty Daily

Subscribe to Queerty for a daily dose of #americanmedicalassociation #blooddonation #gaybloodban stories and more


  • Dakotahgeo

    This cannot happen soon enough! If I were needing a transfusion of blood and they asked me if I would take it from a gay donor, my only answer would be… ABSOLUTELY!

  • hyhybt

    A funny thing… it seems like a lot of the reason those who want to keep the ban like it has nothing to do with HIV specifically, but is more of a “ew, gay” thing. Which makes even less sense when added to the insistence that being gay is a choice rather than anything innate or biological.

  • Sara Hoyt

    Wow, there’s actually a ban for that? That’s ridiculous. And notice they always say “gay men”, but what about women? Does the same apply for them? (I’m seriously asking, would love an answer). To me it seems there’s just this unjustified hate towards the mere idea of two men having sex. In cases of two females, I’ve noticed a trend around where people view that as more “acceptable”, and more “normal”, like college experimentation. As long as you grow out of it of course. (sarcasm). Seriously, there’s some sad things in this world.

  • hyhybt

    @Sara Hoyt: There is. The ban isn’t actually gay men; it’s (probably not *quite* word for word, but near enough) any man who has had sex with another man even once since 1977, with a description of what qualifies as sex following. If I remember correctly, the ban for having used illegal injected drugs is also lifetime, as is having sex for money, despite none of these things meaning that someone who has remained negative for a significant length of time afterwards could spontaneously turn positive. It’s based on where AIDS turned up first, implemented when testing was unreliable and expensive.

    If I remember rightly, one reason it made sense originally, besides the potential for a false negative, to exclude so many probably-healthy people from the donor pool was the testing itself: it would have been prohibitively expensive to test each donation individually, so they mixed samples from several together and tested that. Which meant it cost a small fraction of what it otherwise would, but it also meant that every positive meant throwing out several units of perfectly good blood.

Comments are closed.