81 Democrats and 1 Republican are calling on the Obama
administration to lift its ban on gay men donating blood.
Senators Tammy Baldwin, a Democrat from Wisconsin, Mike Enzi, a
Republican from Wyoming, and Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat from
Massachusetts, were among the lawmakers signing on to a letter urging
Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen
Sebelius to re-evaluate the policy, which they called “outdated.”
Under the current policy, the FDA imposes a lifetime ban on men
who have had a sexual relationship with another man since 1977 from
donating blood. But the agency only excludes people who have engaged
in heterosexual sexual activity with a person known to have HIV, the
virus that causes AIDS, for one year.
Gay rights groups say the policy creates an unfair double standard
and that it stigmatizes gay men.
“Since the beginning of the HIV/AIDS epidemic more than 30 years
ago, the scientific community's understanding of the virus has
changed dramatically,” the lawmakers stated.
“We have seen vast advances in blood screening technology, blood
donation policy changes in other countries allowing MSM [men who have
sex with men] to donate, and opposition from our nation's blood banks
who have called the current ban 'medically and scientifically
“Our current policies turn away healthy, willing donors, even
when we face serious blood shortages. Further, the existing lifetime
ban continues to perpetuate inaccurate stereotypes against gay and
bisexual men, and fosters an atmosphere that promotes
Last year, HHS decided against recommending lifting the ban to the