August 18, 2015

Gillibrand, Senate & House Members Push To End Limitations On Blood Donations Based On Sexual Orientation

Officials: A Risk-Based Deferral System Based on Behaviors Would Eliminate Any and All Confusion About Who is Eligible to Donate, Regardless of Gender Identify

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, along with colleagues from both the Senate and the House wrote to the Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration to end the current discriminatory policy that limits gay men nationwide from donating blood. As the FDA released draft guidance on blood donation policy titled “Revised Recommendations for Reducing the Risk of Human Immunodeficiency,” Senator Gillibrand joined by 15 Senators and 67 Representatives urged Commissioner Margaret Hamburg to provide a clear path towards a risk-based blood donation policy.

In a letter to the FDA, the members wrote, “While the move to a one-year deferral policy is a step forward, this policy is still not based on an individual donor’s risk of carrying a transfusion transmissible infection, still prevents many low-risk individuals from donating blood, and continues to let higher risk individuals donate…. Science has shown us that neither the current policy nor the policy put forward by the Draft is justified.”

The members are pushing for a policy that would be based, “on an individual donor’s risk behaviors, not the behaviors of their sexual partners, as there is no way for a donor to guarantee the accuracy or completeness of information about the behaviors of their sexual partners.”

The American Red Cross and American Medical Association support lifting the lifetime ban on blood donation for men who have sex with men and support new blood donation deferral policies that are based on an individual’s level of risk.

The letter was signed by Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Christopher Coons (D-DE), Al Franken (D-MN), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Edward Markey (D-MA), Christopher Murphy (D-CT), Bernard Sanders (I-VT), Charles Schumer (D-NY), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).

New York Representatives Yvette Clarke (NY-9), Joe Crowley (NY-14), Brian Higgins (NY-26), Steve Israel (NY-3), Nita Lowey (NY-17), Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18), Grace Meng (NY-6), Jerrold Nadler (NY-10), Charles Rangel (NY-13), Jose Serrano (NY-15), Paul Tonko (NY-20), Nydia Velasquez (NY-7 ) joined the Senator along with 55 other members.

The full text of the letter included here.