Tags: gay | blood | screening | HIV

Democrats Urge Change to Let Gays Give Blood

Saturday, 07 Jul 2012 08:06 PM

By Nick Sanchez

Democratic legislators are calling for an end to the decades-old ban on gay men giving blood in the wake of a nationide shortage.

Led by Rep. Mike Quigley of Illinois and Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, a group of 64 legislators sent a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services asking it to move forward with a study of the ban that may lead to its reversal, CNN reported.

“This is a matter of life and death and we are turning away over 50,000 healthy men who want to donate blood," Quigley told the cable channel.

"A straight person who has unsafe sex with multiple partners can give blood, and that creates a greater risk than a gay person in a monogamous relationship."

The policy was put in place at a time when the nature of HIV transmission was unknown and there were no efficient blood tests to detect the virus. Scientists knew that a disproportionate number of gay men were affected with the virus, and screening questions were added to the donation process.

Gay groups have long said the ban should be lifted now that HIV is a known quantity, screening questions and denials for donation should be based on level of risky behavior alone. They add that four out of five gay men are HIV negative.

Italy and Spain limit donations to anyone who has had only one sex partner in the past six months, regardless of sexual orientation. Many groups have proposed the same for the U.S.men donating blood that has been in place for decades.

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