House Dems Urge FDA to Lift Blood Donation Ban

Six members say "unrealistic" policy furthers stigma

The FDA recently lifted a ban that prohibited gay men from donating blood, a policy that dated back to the AIDS epidemic. ( Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Six House Democrats on Tuesday asked the Food and Drug Administration to lift what they called an "unrealistic" ban on sexually active gay men from donating blood that furthers an old stigma.  

"[T]he 12-month deferral policy, which suggests that the sexual relationships of [gay] men and transgender women inherently pose a risk of HIV transmission, furthers a stigma that we have persistently fought to eliminate," the lawmakers wrote in a letter to FDA Commissioner Robert D. Califf. "The FDA questionnaire should reflect risk-based behaviors as opposed to sexual orientation."  

Blood banks in Orlando in the wake of the Pulse nightclub shooting that left 49 people dead and 53 injured have been so overwhelmed with long lines of people wanting to donate that they asked people to stop coming.  

But among those also being turned away are sexually active gay men. That's because of a policy by the FDA that prohibits gay men who have been sexually active in the last 12 months from donating blood.  

[Read : Letter to FDA by House Democrats to lift Blood Donation Ban ] It stems from a decades-long ban that previously prohibiting all gay men from donating blood since 1983, at the heights of the AIDS epidemic.  

The Democratic members asked the FDA to lift the ban, calling it "unrealistic" and outdated.  

On Monday, Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo., told CQ Roll Call on Monday the letter was one of his intentions to responding to the shooting.  

In addition to Polis, the letter was signed by members of Florida's Democratic delegations including Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Alcee L. Hastings.  

Contact Rahman at remarahman@cqrollcall.com or follow her on Twitter at @remawriter

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