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

The 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. Read today’s Advocate story on the vote, which features comment from the Task Force.

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saying “it is our opinion that this lifetime deferral for men who have sex with men (MSM) from donating blood is outdated and discriminatory and we strongly urge the Advisory Committee to recommend a revision of this policy.”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.

Here’s what Task Force Executive Director Rea Carey had to say about today’s vote:

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.


Both CNN and Perez Hilton covered the decision to uphold the ban on blood donations and quoted Rea in their coverage.