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Sen. John Kerry is slamming the Food and Drug Administration with letters, demanding that it justify and reconsider its “outdated” ban on blood donation by men who have sex with men.
According to the FDA policy, homosexual men are banned from donating blood if they have had sexual intercourse with a male since 1977.
Kerry, D-Mass., and 17 other Democratic lawmakers asked FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg to reverse the policy in a March 4 letter.
“Not a single piece of scientific evidence supports the ban.” Kerry wrote. “A law that was once considered medically justified is today simply outdated and needs to end. …”
The letter was signed by Sens. Kirstin Gillibrand, D-N.Y.; Dick Durbin, D-Ill.; Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii; Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I.; Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio; Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J.; Bob Casey, D-Pa.; Bernie Sanders, D-Vt.; Russ Feingold, D-Wis.; Mark Udall, D-Colo.; Al Franken, D-Minn.; Maria Cantwell, D-Wash.; Carl Levin, D-Mich.; Tom Harkin, D-Iowa; Mark Begich, D-Alaska; Roland Burris, D-Ill.; and Michael Bennet, D-Colo.
In response, the FDA released a statement explaining that “while FDA appreciates concerns about perceived discrimination, our decision to maintain the deferral policy is based on current science and data and does not give weight to a donor’s sexual orientation.”
Kerry followed his correspondence with another letter to Hamburg this week.
“The medical and scientific communities have been crystal clear that there is simply no scientific evidence to warrant a lifetime ban on gay Americans donating blood,” Kerry urged. “If the FDA knows something to the contrary, I would love to hear it, because without hard facts, this ban makes no sense.”
Research published in the journal Sexually Transmitted Infections found that more than half of new HIV infections diagnosed in the U.S. in 2005 were among homosexual men, and as many as one in five “gay” men living in cities is thought to be HIV positive.
Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass.
Results showed that for the heterosexual U.S. population to experience an epidemic of HIV infection as great as that of homosexual men, heterosexuals would need to average almost five unprotected sexual partners every year.
In its September 2009 report “The HIV/AIDS Epidemic in the United States,” the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation found that “Most new HIV infections are among gay and bisexual men.”
“Gay and bisexual men accounted for an estimated 53 percent of new HIV infections in 2006, and are the only group for which new infections are on the rise,” states the CDC’s 2008 “Fact Sheet: Estimates of New HIV Infections in the United States.”
According to the FDA: “[‘Gay’ men] have an HIV prevalence 60 times higher than the general population, 800 times higher than first-time blood donors and 8,000 times higher than repeat blood donors.”
The FDA further warns: “[‘Gay’ men] also have an increased risk of having other infections that can be transmitted to others by blood transfusion. For example, infection with the Hepatitis B virus is about 5-6 times more common, and Hepatitis C virus infections are about 2 times more common in [‘gay’ men] than in the general population.”
Kerry also published a commentary piece on the subject in the Bay Windows, a major Boston-area homosexual newspaper.
“Look at what we did with the discriminatory ban on travel and immigration for those infected with HIV,” Kerry argued. “We gained the support of every major public safety organization in the country and worked to pass legislation lifting that ban. It is now time to apply the same fair and educated reevaluation to blood donation by ending the lifetime ban on donations from healthy, gay Americans.”