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, Americas 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.
Were disappointed, said Gay and Lesbian Medical Association Executive Director Joel Ginsberg. If a man has high-risk sex with a woman, hes allowed back into the pool after 12 months, but if he has safe sex with another man, hes banned for life. This isnt about science; its 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 FDAs 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.