For Immediate Release
Mandy Simon, (202) 675-2312; firstname.lastname@example.org
ACLU Urges FDA to Apply Science, Not Discrimination, to Blood Donor Policy
WASHINGTON - The American Civil Liberties Union submitted comments to the Advisory Committee on Blood Safety and Availability urging the committee to reassess the Food and Drug Administration's policy (FDA) on blood donation by gay and bisexual men. The FDA policy, enacted in 1985, recommends that men who have had sex with another man even one time since 1977 should be banned from donating blood. In its comments, the ACLU recommended that the committee base its policy on factual evidence, rather than sexual orientation.
"The FDA should be basing its policy on facts and not stereotypes," said Laura W. Murphy, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. "If gay and bisexual donors can be screened for donation without causing risk to our nation's blood supply, they should be. The FDA's policy wrongly implies the mere fact of sexual activity with another man poses a risk of HIV transmission. The advisory committee must review its policy and follow science in this issue. To do otherwise would be discriminatory and unconstitutional."
Gay and bisexual men, intravenous drug users, people who have had sex for money and people who have tested positive for HIV disease are currently the only groups of people banned from donating blood. Though this policy excludes all gay and bisexual men regardless of their individual sexual histories or HIV risk, other individuals who are also at increased risk for HIV, including people who have heterosexual sex with someone who they know to be HIV positive or people who have had sex with a commercial sex worker, are prevented from donating blood for only a year.
SCROLL TO CONTINUE WITH CONTENT
Never Miss a Beat.
Get our best delivered to your inbox.
While there is no constitutional right to donate blood, government policy regulating the blood donation field must not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation by adopting differing standards for conduct that poses similar risks, based solely on the identity of those engaging in such conduct. In other words, gay and bisexual men cannot constitutionally be singled out for differential treatment solely because of their sexual relationships.
"Eligibility for donating blood should be based on scientific evidence, not stigmatizing and outdated stereotypes," said James Esseks, Director of the ACLU LGBT & AIDS Project. "We know that many straight people have HIV. If the existing screening methods are sufficient to protect the blood supply from straight people with HIV, then the government needs a really good reason for having a different rule for gay and bisexual men. It's not clear that it does."
To read the ACLU's comments, go to: www.aclu.org/lgbt-rights/aclu-comments-submitted-department-health-and-human-services-fda-blood-ban
This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.
Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.
Please select a donation method:
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) conserves America's original civic values working in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in the United States by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.