Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2013
News for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Physicians
Lawmakers seek change to blood donation policy
More than 80 lawmakers have called on the Obama administration to change the longstanding policy prohibiting gay men from donating blood, according to a recent article in The Hill. The lawmakers, including 18 senators and 64 members of the U.S. House of Representatives, submitted their request in a letter to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
"Our current policies turn away healthy, willing donors, even when we face serious blood shortages," the lawmakers said in their letter. "Further, the existing lifetime ban continues to perpetuate inaccurate stereotypes against gay and bisexual men, and fosters an atmosphere that promotes discrimination."
At the AMA Annual Meeting in June, the AMA passed new policy that opposes the current lifetime deferral for men who have sex with men in favor of deferral periods that are fairly and consistently applied to donors according to their level of risk. The AMA believes risk-based policies can reduce discrimination while protecting and increasing the nation's donated blood supply.
HHS increases LGBT outreach efforts
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and HHS Director of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Outreach Matthew Heinz, MD, last week penned an article for the Huffington Post explaining the agency's current efforts to increase outreach to LGBT Americans.
They list as among their recent accomplishments implementing a new anti-discrimination policy that is inclusive of sexual orientation and gender identity, newly awarded grants to improve the quality of HIV care for transgender women of color, and the first annual National Institutes of Health (NIH) Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex Research Symposium.
Dr. Heinz emphasized HHS' commitment to enhancing LGBT equality. "Progress is made not only through bold shifts like implementation of the Affordable Care Act but also through smaller day-to-day efforts," he said. "Be assured that HHS is making every effort to ensure equally accessible quality medical care to improve the health and lives of LGBT individual and all Americans."