Task Force expresses anger at HHS committee recommendation against lifting FDA lifetime blood ban

June 11, 2010

Inga Sarda-Sorensen
Director of Communications
(Office) 646.358.1463
(Cell) 202.641.5592

WASHINGTON, June 11 — The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force expressed anger and deep disappointment in today's vote by the Health and Human Services Advisory Committee on Blood Safety and Availability against recommending the Food and Drug Administration lift its lifetime ban on blood donations from any man who has had sex with another man since 1977. It is estimated that 219,000 more pints of blood could be available annually if the blanket ban was lifted.

Earlier this week, the Task Force and nearly 50 other groups issued a joint letter to the committee saying "it is our opinion that this lifetime deferral for men who have sex with men (MSM) from donating blood is outdated and discriminatory and we strongly urge the Advisory Committee to recommend a revision of this policy." The Task Force also spoke against the blood ban at a June 9 press conference on Capitol Hill.

Statement by Rea Carey, Executive Director
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

"This decision is outrageous, irresponsible and archaic. We expect more out of this advisory committee and this administration than to uphold an unnecessarily discriminatory policy from another era.

"We've said it before: The most critical issue is to ensure that the blood supply is safe and abundant, and this means maximizing the potential donor pool and making sure all donors are screened appropriately and assessed based on actual behavioral risk independent of their sexual orientation. The committee's decision today not only leaves a discriminatory practice in place, it also puts lives at risk."

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The mission of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is to build the grassroots power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. We do this by training activists, equipping state and local organizations with the skills needed to organize broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, and building the organizational capacity of our movement. Our Policy Institute, the movement’s premier think tank, provides research and policy analysis to support the struggle for complete equality and to counter right-wing lies. As part of a broader social justice movement, we work to create a nation that respects the diversity of human expression and identity and creates opportunity for all. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., we also have offices in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis and Cambridge.