The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force expressed “anger and deep disappointment” at the June 11 vote by the Health and Human Services Advisory Committee on Blood Safety and Availability. The committee voted against recommending the Food and Drug Administration lift its lifetime ban on blood donations from any man who has had sex with another man since 1977.
It is estimated that 219,000 more pints of blood could be available annually if the blanket ban were lifted.
Prior to the vote, the Task Force and nearly 50 other groups issued a joint letter to the committee saying that “it is our opinion that this lifetime deferral for men who have sex with men (MSM) from donating blood is outdated and discriminatory, and we strongly urge the Advisory Committee to recommend a revision of this policy.” The Task Force also spoke against the blood ban at a June 9 press conference on Capitol Hill.
“This decision is outrageous, irresponsible, and archaic,” said Rea Carey, executive director of NGLTF. “We expect more out of this advisory committee and this administration than to uphold an unnecessarily discriminatory policy from another era.
“We’ve said it before: the most critical issue is to ensure that the blood supply is safe and abundant, and this means maximizing the potential donor pool and making sure all donors are screened appropriately and assessed based on actual behavioral risk independent of their sexual orientation. The committee’s decision today not only leaves a discriminatory practice in place, it also puts lives at risk.”
— Nancy Ford