Democratic Senators Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, along with 78 other congressional Democrats, urged the Obama Administration to lift the ban on gay men donating blood on Monday, calling the 1983 policy archaic and a scientifically unjustified barrier reports BuzzFeed. The two lawmakers wrote a detailed letter to the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Sylvia Burwell.
The lawmakers' request comes after the FDA reaffirmed that it will not repeal the longstanding ban on gay blood. The request also addresses the recommendation by the Health and Human Services’ Advisory Committee on Blood & Tissue Safety & Availability's relaxation on the lifetime ban to instead ban donations from men who have had sex with men in the previous year. However, the lawmakers believe both policies are unfair saying, "both policies are discriminatory, and both approaches are unacceptable.”
In the letter the lawmakers request that the ban should be replaced with a "risk-based blood donation policy.” The most poignant part of the letter addresses the common objection of gay men donating blood; that gay men tend to be higher carriers of HIV, the virus that can lead to AIDS.
“The pertinent scientific question is not whether a cross-section of the population is more likely than another to transmit an infection, but rather whether an across-the-board, risk-based screening will reduce the likelihood of all infectious contaminations.”
Two other letters were addressed in the past concerning the ban however, the latest letter explicitly lays out the lawmakers’ policy platform and asks Secretary Burwell several pointed questions. The prominent question is will Burwell "Commit to replacing the lifetime deferral policy by the end of 2014?" And if a blood-screening network is established, when would it be functional, and would it need to be up and running to roll back the ban?
The lawmakers expect Burwell to address the matter before or on Dec. 22.
Read the letter below: