Senator John Kerry wants the US Department of Health to end its policy of banning gay or bisexual men from donating blood.
Kerry and US Congressman Mike Quigley of Illinois on Monday (11 June) sent a letter to the department urging it to move forward with a study that looks at ending the ban which has been in place since the height of the HIV/AIDS crisis in the 1980s.
The policy bans any man who has had sex with a man, even once since 1977, from donating blood for life.
The letter points out that in the 27 years since, 'We have seen vast advances in blood screening technology, policy changes in other nations, and staunch opposition from the nation’s blood banks who have called the current ban 'medically and scientifically unwarranted.'
It points out an 'inconsistent and indefensible' double standard that bans healthy gay and bisexual men for life yet allows a man who has had sex with an HIV-positive woman to give blood after waiting only one year.
Kerry, who has served in the US Senate since 1985 and was the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee, said in a statement that he is confident that new studies will result in getting the policy off the books. He said it is time to rely 'on the science of today not the myths of 20 years ago.'
The letter was co-signed by senators from Alaska, Colorado, Hawaii, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Vermont and Washington.