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April 30, 2010

NYC Council Calls on FDA to Lift Gay Blood Ban

The New York City Council passed a resolution that calls on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to lift its lifetime ban on blood donations from men who have sex with men (MSM).

The measure passed April 29 with a 42-to-1 vote.

Under the current U.S. policy, all men who have engaged in homosexual activity—even once—since 1977 are banned from donating blood regardless of HIV status, actual risk, frequency of sexual activity or whether they are in a monogamous relationship.

The resolution passed, in part, because of an influential report by Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC) titled A Drive for Change: Reforming U.S. Blood Donation Policies and because of testimony GMHC provided during a City Council public hearing April 13 on the topic. GMHC stressed that the ban fuels stigma and is based on the fear and prejudice people felt 25 years ago—not on science. GMHC also commended Speaker Christine Quinn for her hard work on promoting an end to this ban.

“We thank Speaker Quinn and the NYC Council for their advocacy toward lifting the ban,” Marjorie J. Hill, PhD, chief executive officer of GMHC, said in a statement. “We will continue to work with the City Council to call on the FDA to re-examine discriminatory policies that categorically exclude potential blood donors, including gay and bisexual men, and that contribute to chronic blood shortages.”

A committee of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is scheduled to revisit the ban in June.

Search: New York City, ban, blood, FDA, MSM, Gay Men’s Health Crisis, stigma, Christine Quinn, resolution

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