The HHS Advisory Committee on Blood Safety and Availability is holding hearings today and tomorrow on the FDA's long-standing ban on taking blood donations from gay men. Open Left has organized a blogswarm, asking people to write the executive secretary of the committee which we're participating in, here and on the show. Adam Bink at Open Left explains the issue, which I've discussed on the show in recent weeks:
The current policy has been in place since 1985 when no HIV testing was available and little was known about HIV/AIDS. Since then, while many policies towards blood donations have changed, and HIV testing has significantly advanced to the point where a permanent ban no longer makes sense, the ban still remains in place. The ban is also discriminatory in that it unfairly targets gay and bisexual men because it does not distinguish between high-risk and low-risk MSM, banning potential MSM donors who are HIV-negative and consistently practice safe sex or are in long-term monogamous relationships, while others with a significantly higher risk of HIV infection are subject to less restrictive deferrals or none at all. The ban also contributes to a dangerously and chronically low blood supply in a country in which approximately just 5% of all eligible donors give.
Open Left lists a number of reasons you can site in your email to urge the committee to revise the ban:
Dr. Jerry Holmberg is the Executive Secretary of the Advisory Committee, and is tasked with accepting formal public comments from both organizations and individuals. He has made his e-mail available for this purpose. Please take a minute to e-mail Dr. Holmberg via firstname.lastname@example.org and urge him and the committee to revise the ban on blood donations from MSM.