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US lawmakers want end to ban on gay blood donors

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U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley Photo: NBC Chicago
U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley
Photo: NBC Chicago

Illinois Congressman Mike Quigley has joined more than 80 members of Congress in a renewed push to end a ban on donating blood by men who have engaged in gay sex.

The lawmakers sent a letter to Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius requesting an update on the agency’s reevaluation of the policy.

Quigley, a Chicago Democrat, said Friday that despite blood shortages “perfectly healthy would-be donors are turned away based solely on sexual orientation.”

The ban was established in 1983 at the advent of the HIV-AIDS crisis. But lawmakers and others say there is no scientific evidence to support it. There have also been advances in blood screening technology.

The letter says progress in Health Department studies to support a policy change has been slow.

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