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Sen. Warren Pushes To End Blood Donation Ban

Massachusetts U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren has asked U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to speed up the review of a rule that bans men who have had sex with men from donating blood for life.

Sen. Warren sent a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services Friday urging them to quicken their review of blood donation criteria. (Cliff Owen/AP)
Sen. Warren sent a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services Friday urging them to quicken their review of blood donation criteria. (Cliff Owen/AP)

In a letter signed by 85 members of Congress from both sides of the aisle, including newly elected U.S. Sen. Edward Markey, Warren requested further information about the review. She said her push to expedite the process was prompted by a letter she received from a Roslindale constituent who wanted to donate blood following the Boston Marathon bombings, but couldn't because of his sexual orientation.

"When lives are on the line, we all want to help," he said in the letter.

The ban began during the rise of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s. Critics argue  the policy no longer makes sense because modern blood screening technology eliminates the risk of donations from HIV-positive donors.

In 2006, the Red Cross, the American Association of Blood Banks and America's Blood Centers said the ban was medically and scientifically unwarranted. The organizations agreed that donation criteria should instead be based on risk for sexually transmitted or transfusion transmitted infections.

This program aired on August 2, 2013. The audio for this program is not available.

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