The Department of Health and Human Services' Advisory Committee on Blood Safety and Availability will meet today and Friday in Rockville, Maryland to reconsider the Food and Drug Administration's long-standing ban on blood donations from men who have had sex with men.
"The prohibition, which has been in place since the mid-'80s, was intended to protect the blood supply from being tainted with the virus that causes AIDS. But proponents of changing the rules say improved testing methods make the current standards seem outdated. In addition, they say that screening techniques may not rule out other potentially risky donors, making the ban singling out gay and bisexual men unfair. The FDA reviewed the issue in 2000 and 2006, and decided to maintain the status quo. But political pressure has been mounting to revise the policy. On Wednesday, 34 members of the U.S. House of Representative and nine U.S. senators called on the federal government to revise what they described as the FDA's discriminatory policy."
The lawmakers include Sen. John Kerry (MA) and Reps. Barbara Lee (CA), Jerrold Nadler (NY), Anthony Weiner (NY) and Lynn Woolsey (CA).
The current policy bans any man who has had sex with a man since 1977 from donating blood. A recent study from the Williams Institute concluded that lifting the ban would increase the nation's blood supply by 219,000 pints.
The hearing is happening now. Watch it live HERE ...