The Ottumwa Courier

AP National

September 16, 2013

Despite pressure, ban on gay blood donors endures

NEW YORK (AP) — The U.S. gay-rights movement has achieved many victories in recent years — on marriage, military service and other fronts. Yet one vestige of an earlier, more wary era remains firmly in place: the 30-year-old nationwide ban on blood donations by gay and bisexual men.

Dating from the first years of the AIDS epidemic, the ban is a source of frustration to many gay activists, and also to many leading players in the nation's health and blood-supply community who have joined in calling for change.

In June, the American Medical Association voted to oppose the policy. AMA board member William Kobler called it "discriminatory and not based on sound science." Last month, more than 80 members of Congress wrote to the Department of Health and Human Services, criticizing the lifetime ban as an outdated measure that perpetuates inaccurate stereotypes about gay men.

On some college campuses, students have urged boycotts of blood drives until the ban is repealed. Over the summer, activists organized a "National Gay Blood Drive" — asking gay men to visit blood centers, take tests to show their blood was safe, and then try to donate in defiance of the ban.

In the face of such pressure, the Food and Drug Administration — the HHS agency that regulates America's blood supply — has been unwavering. The lifetime ban will be eased, the FDA says, "only if supported by scientific data showing that a change in policy would not present a significant and preventable risk to blood recipients."

Under the auspices of HHS, a few studies are in progress that might lay the groundwork for a review of the policy. Department spokeswoman Diane Gianelli said the studies reflect a commitment to "continuously improving the safety and availability of the nation's blood supply."

However, some activists are impatient at the prospect of a research process that's likely to extend over several years with an uncertain outcome. They argue that the U.S. could move now to emulate Spain and Italy, where blanket bans on gay blood donations have been replaced by policies that ban donations by anyone — gay or straight — who's recently had unsafe sex, while allowing donations from gays and bisexuals whose blood is tested as safe and whose sexual behavior is deemed to pose no risk.

Text Only
AP National
  • People with old Social Security debts get reprieve WASHINGTON (AP) — People with old Social Security debts are getting a reprieve — for now. The Social Security Administration had been participating in a program in which thousands of people were having their tax refunds seized to recoup overpayments

    April 15, 2014

  • Russia tests Obama's ability to stop its advances WASHINGTON (AP) — With the White House asserting that Russia is stoking instability in eastern Ukraine, President Barack Obama is once again faced with the complicated reality of following through on his tough warnings against overseas provocations.

    April 15, 2014

  • Tributes planned to mark Boston Marathon bombing BOSTON (AP) — The anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings started with a solemn wreath-laying ceremony Tuesday morning at the site of the twin explosions, the first tribute in a day dedicated to honoring the three people who died, the more than 2

    April 15, 2014

  • Police: Suspected killers wore GPS devices ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Two convicted sex offenders dutifully checked in with police every month and wore their GPS trackers around the clock — the rules of parole that are designed to tip off authorities if a freed felon backslides. Yet for at least

    April 15, 2014

  • US anti-Semitic attacks down before Kansas deaths OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — A group monitoring anti-Semitic attacks in the U.S. cautiously noted a sharp decline in such incidents less than two weeks before the fatal shootings over the weekend outside two Jewish sites in suburban Kansas City. The co

    April 15, 2014

  • Finance officials: Global economy turns the corner WASHINGTON (AP) — The world's top finance officials expressed confidence Saturday that the global economy finally has turned the corner to stronger growth. This time, they may be right. Despite challenges that include market jitters about the Federal

    April 14, 2014

  • Chances of getting audited by IRS lowest in years WASHINGTON (AP) — As millions of Americans race to meet Tuesday's tax deadline, their chances of getting audited are lower than they have been in years. Budget cuts and new responsibilities are straining the Internal Revenue Service's ability to poli

    April 14, 2014

  • 10 Things to Know for Today Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about today: 1. ROBOTIC SUBMARINE DEPLOYED TO FIND FLIGHT 370 DEBRIS Search team decides to launch the unmanned underwater vehicle to look for missing jet six

    April 14, 2014

  • Official IDs supremacist as Kansas attacks suspect OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — The man accused of killing three people in attacks at a Jewish community center and Jewish retirement complex near Kansas City is a well-known white supremacist and former Ku Klux Klan leader who was once the subject of a n

    April 14, 2014

  • US threatening tougher sanctions on Russia WASHINGTON (AP) — Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew is warning Russia that it could face tougher economic sanctions because of its actions in Ukraine but so far other economic powers are showing a reluctance to go as far as the United States. Lew delivere

    April 11, 2014

Obituaries
Record
Facebook
AP National