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May 2007 (To print, click the print icon on your browser
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GLMA Expresses Disappointment in FDA’s Refusal to Revise Blood Donation Policy

SAN FRANCISCO--May 24, 2007--The Food and Drug Administration announced yesterday on its website its decision to continue the lifetime ban on blood donation by gay and bisexual men. In March 2006, in testimony before the FDA, the American Association of Blood Banks, America’s Blood Centers, and the American Red Cross stated that the ban “is medically and scientifically unwarranted” and that “it does not appear rational to broadly differentiate sexual transmission via male-to-male sexual activity from that via heterosexual activity on scientific grounds.”  

“We’re disappointed,” said Gay and Lesbian Medical Association Executive Director Joel Ginsberg. “If a man has high-risk sex with a woman, he’s allowed back into the pool after 12 months, but if he has safe sex with another man, he’s banned for life. This isn’t about science; it’s about preconceptions about gay and bisexual men.” According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, heterosexuals who engage in high-risk sex make up 17 percent of AIDS cases.

“Rational blood donation guidelines need to be founded upon the best evidence-based science and the behavior of individuals, not upon archaic data and preconceptions about groups of people. The FDA’s current guidelines imply that gay men are the primary agents for the spread of HIV, while giving heterosexuals a false sense of security about their sexual behavior and responsibility. These are two very dangerous messages for the FDA to be reinforcing,”

“We agree with the FDA that the first priority must be to ensure a safe blood supply. But we should all be concerned when the FDA makes important decisions that are not firmly based in science,” Ginsberg concluded.

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