US: Democrats call for end of gay blood ban

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

Democrats in the US have called for the Obama administration to end a ban on gay men donating blood, tissue and organs.

A group of politicians yesterday sent a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell, asking for the current policy to be changed.

Led by Senator Tammy Baldwin, the letter signed by over 60 Democrats said the ban perpetuates the stereotype that all gay men have HIV, and is discriminatory.

“These policies are inconsistent and fail to reflect the advances in HIV detection and the scientific community’s understanding of the virus since the policy was first established,” the letter stated. “It is time that the agency took action.”

They requested that the department should provide a written update within 30 days on the policy.

The letter noted the recent case of a gay teen who committed suicide, whose eyes were rejected for donation because of his sexuality.

“AJ’s story clearly demonstrates that these outdated policies have real-life consequences, turning away much-needed donations of healthy blood and tissue, even when we face serious shortages,” the lawmakers continued.

“Our current policies have failed to respect his dignity as a young, gay man and have wasted the gift of sight that might have helped someone else.”