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WASHINGTON (RNS) The CEO of the Christian Medical Association says the national ban on gay men making blood donations should be kept in place, despite calls from at least 18 senators for the Food and Drug Administration to drop the ban.
Dr. David Stevens, CEO of the Tennessee-based doctors’ group, said “the risk is not worth the benefit,” noting that gay men have a much higher HIV infection rate than heterosexual males.
“It’s not a matter of trying to discriminate against people. ….
The bottom line is medically we’ve got to make sure we keep the blood supply safe,” he said in an interview on Wednesday (March 17).
Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., and 17 other senators wrote to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg on March 4.
“We request that you initiate a review of the lifetime deferral requirement for men who have sex with men wishing to donate blood and that you re-examine the deferral criteria for all blood donors to ensure all high-risk behaviors are appropriately addressed,” they wrote.
The lawmakers said the lifetime ban “does not fall in line with the one-year deferral required for high-risk heterosexual behavior.”
Stevens agreed with the senators that HIV testing has greatly improved since the ban went into effect in the 1980s. But he said he hopes the FDA will maintain its current policy because testing is “not 100 percent perfect.”
By Adelle M. Banks
Copyright 2010 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.

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