Is Blood Ban on the Way Out?

A new effort to allow gay men to donate

We recently discussed the ban on gay men donating blood on G Philly. And there’s been a development. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHH) is considering amending its policy that bans gay men (or any man, really, who’s had sex with another man since the 1970s) from donating blood.

The policy seems especially discriminatory when you consider that all blood is now tested for HIV, AIDS and other diseases (even though the tests are not always 100 percent accurate). And gay men are certainly not the only ones who are in danger of acquiring or passing on an infectious disease (heterosexual women are among the fastest growing segment of the population to be testing positive for HIV). But the Food and Drug Administration, a division of the DHH, is operating on statistics that suggest the HIV rate is 60 times higher in gay men than anyone else.

“If the data indicate that a change is possible while protecting the blood supply, we will consider a change to the policy,” DHH revealed in a recent statement.

Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts has been advocating that the ban be lifted.

“We’ve been working on this a long time in a serious way, and I’m glad Secretary [Kathleen] Sebelius responded with concrete steps to finally move this policy from the books,” says Kerry in a statement. “HHS is doing their due diligence, and we plan to stay focused on the endgame – a safe blood supply and an end to this discriminatory ban.”