amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research

amfAR Urges U.S. Government to Lift Blood Donation Ban for Men Who Have Sex with Men

Calls for vigilance in protecting nation’s blood supply and an end to unnecessary policies that stigmatize vulnerable groups


For Immediate Release

Media Contact: Cub Barrett, Program Communications Manager, (212) 806-1602

NEW YORK, June 14, 2010—In response to a federal advisory committee’s decision Friday to uphold the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s longstanding policy that prohibits blood donations from all men who have sex with men (MSM), amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research, on Monday called on the U.S. Government to redouble its efforts to lift the ban.

After two days of meetings and testimony, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Advisory Committee on Blood Safety and Availability on Friday voted 9-6 against lifting the FDA’s policy, which was implemented in 1985 and prohibits blood donations from any man who has ever had sex with another man—even a single encounter—at any time since 1977. Despite major advances in HIV screening technology, the ban has remained in place.

Last week, amfAR, along with organizations including Gay Men’s Health Crisis, the National Hemophilia Foundation, the AIDS Action Council, and the Human Rights Campaign, signed a joint statement asking the committee “to recommend any scientific research that is necessary to allow for the thoughtful consideration of alternative policies regarding donor deferral.” Other groups, including the American Red Cross and the American Association of Blood Banks, have also urged the FDA to lift the ban.

“Today’s policy is a double standard that not only stigmatizes men who have sex with men, but also directly affects the nation’s critical blood supply,” said Chris Collins, amfAR’s vice president and director of public policy, who addressed the panel on Friday. “amfAR strongly supports policies that minimize risk to the nation’s blood supply, but we also know there are real risks in a policy that unnecessarily discriminates against a group of people who are already subject to stigma in our nation. Fighting AIDS in America means many things, including being vigilant in protecting the blood supply and doing away with unnecessary policies that stigmatize vulnerable groups.”

About amfAR
amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research, is one of the world’s leading nonprofit organizations dedicated to the support of AIDS research, HIV prevention, treatment education, and the advocacy of sound AIDS-related public policy. Since 1985, amfAR has invested more than $307 million in its programs and has awarded grants to more than 2,000 research teams worldwide.