We write today to express our concerns regarding outdated, medically and scientifically unsound deferral criteria for prospective blood donors. With hospitals and emergency rooms across the country in constant and urgent need of blood products, we believe certain blood donor deferral policies should be reviewed and appropriately modified and modernized while ensuring the blood supply meets the highest possible standards that we all expect in America.... We live in a very different country than we did in 1983. Today, the high-risk behaviors associated with HIV contraction are more fully understood and dramatic technological improvements have been made in HIV detection.... Reflecting the dangers associated with the window period, prospective donors who have engaged in heterosexual sexual activity with a person known to have HIV are deferred for one year. At the same time, male donors who engaged in protected homosexual sexual activity with a monogamous partner 26 years ago are deferred for life.... The safety, availability, and integrity of our nation's blood supply are vital. For these reasons, we agree with the American Red Cross, America's Blood Centers, AABB, and others that the time has come for the FDA to modify the lifetime deferral for MSM to be consistent with sensible health and safety policy and with FDA deferral guidelines for high-risk heterosexual behavior.
Quotes taken from a public letter by 18 US Senators to Margaret Hamburg of the US Food and Drug Administration. They are requesting a review of the ban on blood donations by men who have ever sex with men. The nationwide policy was put into effect in the early days of the AIDS epidemic and has remained in place despite many criticisms. This letter, however, may be the first serious, coordinated effort by this many Members of Congress. The signers of the letter include John Kerry, Kirstin Gillibrand, Dick Durbin, Daniel Akaka, Sheldon Whitehouse, Sherrod Brown, Frank Lautenberg, Bob Casey, Bernie Sanders, Russ Feingold, Mark Udall, Al Franken, Maria Cantwell, Carl Levin, Tom Harkin, Mark Begich, Rolland Burris, and Michael Bennet. (via Minnesota Independent)