Blood Ban Fix Continues to Falls Far Short of Acceptable Solution

WASHINGTON - December 21, 2015 -- Today, the Human Rights Campaign, (HRC), the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, responded to the release of final guidance from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on a long-awaited change to the current scientifically unwarranted blood donation ban on gay and bisexual men.  The guidance released today outlines the implementation of a deferral-based policy utilizing a one year period of abstinence from same-sex sexual activity for men.

Today's final guidance also clarifies that the gender of donors will be "self-identified and self-reported." The FDA advises that, moving forward, it will "continue to reevaluate its blood donor deferral policies as new scientific information becomes available."

"This new policy prevents men from donating life-saving blood based solely on their sexual orientation rather than actual risk to the blood supply," said David Stacy, HRC's Government Affairs Director.  "While it's a step in the right direction toward an ideal policy that reflects the best scientific research, it still falls far short of a fully acceptable solution because it continues to stigmatize gay and bisexual men.  It simply cannot be justified in light of current scientific research and updated blood screening technology.  We are committed to working towards an eventual outcome that both minimizes risk to the blood supply and treats gay and bisexual men with the respect they deserve."

The final guidance also included clarification for transgender donors. The FDA's previous proposal would have enabled "medical directors" to "exercise discretion with regard to donor eligibility." The final guidance recommends that "in the context of the donor history questionnaire, male or female gender should be self-identified and self-reported for the purpose of blood donation."

The American Red Cross, America's Blood Centers, and the American Association of Blood Banks have characterized the blood ban as medically and scientifically unwarranted as far back as 2006. HRC has been actively engaged for many years in working with the Administration, Congress, and other stakeholders to end the outdated policy banning gay and bisexual men from donating blood.

The Human Rights Campaign is America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. HRC envisions a world where LGBT people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.

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