By Ryan Collett
Massachusetts Senator John Kerry is continuing efforts to end the ban on gay male blood donation, he announced in a statement this week. Alongside Kerry stands Illinois Representative Mike Quigley in support of Kerry’s initiative.
Since 1977, the US Food and Drug Administration has enforced a ban on all gay and bisexual men from donating blood. The ban was born out of fear of the AIDS virus when blood banks began turning away gay men for fear they had contracted the virus.
In his statement, Kerry calls the ban an outdated double standard. While homosexual men are banned from blood donation, heterosexual men who have had sex with HIV-positive women only have to wait one year, after which they can again donate blood.
“Our current policies turn away healthy, willing donors, even when we face serious blood shortages,” said Kerry. “We have seen vast advances in blood screening technology, policy changes in other nations, and staunch opposition from the nation’s blood banks who have called the current ban ‘medically and scientifically unwarranted.’”
Eleven fellow senators cosigned Kerry’s statement, released on Monday. Kerry also offered praise to Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, “for taking the important step toward ending the lifetime ban on gay men donating blood, and instead relying on the science of today not the myths of 20 years ago.”
With public support, Kerry hopes to move forward with legislation that will end the current ban.