Senator Warren has asked that the Health and Human Services end their ban on blood donation from certain people. Healthy blood, no matter what the source can save lives and many feel that the ban is simply a way to discriminate against certain people.
On Friday, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Massachusetts, asked that the Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary for US Department of Health and Human Services review the rule banning men that have sex with men from donating blood more quickly. Ending the ban could help to increase the supply of healthy blood and save lives, and many feel that the delay in review of the rule is simply an effort not to make a difference.
A letter that was signed by 85 Congressional members from both sides of the aisle, including the newly elected Senator, Edward Markey was sent to the US Dept. of Health and Human Services. In it, Warren requested that more information regarding the status of the review be provided. She has said that the push to speed up the process was caused by a letter that was sent to her from a constituent in Roslinale who tried to donate blood after the Boston Marathon bombings, but was not allowed to due to his sexual preferences.
The man that wrote the letter said that when lives are at risk, everyone wants to help.
The ban, which was put into place during the 1980’s at the time when the AIDS epidemic was peaking, has been long ignored, but critics of the rule have said that it no longer matters because of the modern technology that allows for blood screening eliminates previous risk of HIV infected blood donations.
In fact, since 2006, the Red Cross and the American Association of Blood Banks, as well as America’s Blood Centers have been saying that the ban was scientifically and medically unnecessary. The organizations have all agreed that the criteria for donating blood should be based on the risk of carrying sexually transmitted or transfusion transmitted blood infections, not on sexual orientation.
In the mean time, the Red Cross has reported a significant need for blood and feels that lifting the ban could help to increase the number of donors with healthy blood.