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Jun
23

Visitation Rights for Patients

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Out With Cancer helped make visitation rights for all patients and their loved ones a right. We were one of several LGBT focused nonprofit organizations fighting to change hospital policies that excluded  same sex partners from the same visitation rights as married heterosexual couples.  On April 15, 2010, the President issued a Presidential memorandum to HHS calling for the initiation of rulemaking that would ensure that hospitals that participate in Medicare or Medicaid respect the rights of patients to designate visitors, regardless of whether the visitors are legally related to the patients. The President’s directive clearly instructed HHS to propose that a participating hospital not deny visitation privileges on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability. In advance of this proposed rule, Secretary Sebelius sent a letter late today to leaders of major hospital associations asking them to encourage their member hospitals to not wait for the formal rulemaking process to run its course before they review their current visitation policies.

The full letter follows. Read More→

Categories : Advocacy
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HHS Committee voting at 2:40PM 6 voting yes to repeal ban. 9 voting no. Gay Blood Donation Ban is NOT repealed.

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Watch the HHS Advisory Committee on Blood Safety and Availability discuss the Gay Blood Donation Ban http://hhs.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=2&event_id=5

Categories : Advocacy
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Jun
11

Kerry Demands Blood Ban Review

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A June 9 letter to the chair of the HHS Advisory Committee on Blood Safety and Availability from Sen. Kerry and Rep. Mike Quigley, Democrat of Illinois, was co-signed by thirty-three representatives and nine senators. “We join with medical experts at the American Red Cross, America’s Blood Centers, AABB, and the American Medical Association, among others, in calling for a change in policy that better reflects the science of high risk behavior for HIV,” the letter read. “The time has clearly come to review and modify this policy to strengthen the safety of the blood supply and remove any needless discriminatory rules from the process.

“In the wake of the major blood donor organizations stating that the lifetime ban on MSM blood donors is ’medically and scientifically unwarranted,’ we urge you to utilize the most up to date and comprehensive medical and scientific data regarding high risk behaviors in your considerations,” the letter added. “In order to improve the integrity of the blood supply, we believe it is imperative that all high risk behaviors be appropriately targeted in the screening process and that similar deferral periods are established for similar risks.

“As the policy currently stands, a number of potential oversights and medically unjustifiable double standards seem apparent,” continued the letter. “For instance, there is no prescribed consideration of safer sex practices, individuals who routinely practice unsafe heterosexual sex face no deferral period at all while monogamous and married homosexual partners who practice safe sex are banned for life. In fact, a woman who has sexual relations with an HIV positive male is deferred for one year, while a man who has had sexual relations with another man, even a monogamous partner, is deferred for life.

“Even individuals who have paid prostitutes for heterosexual sex face a deferral period of one year while gay men face a lifetime ban,” the letter notes. “These do not strike us as scientifically sound conclusions.”

“Science, technology, and education have advanced since the inception of this policy, and it’s time that it, too, evolved,” Rep. Quigley said in a press release. “By adjusting our restrictions on blood donation, we have an opportunity to demonstrate our commitment to equality and offer those in need of life-saving blood transfusions much-needed help.”

“Since 1985, when the misguided policy barring gay men from blood donation was adopted, we have come leaps and bounds as a society in our awareness of discrimination against the LGBT community, of HIV/AIDS and how it is transmitted, and of safe blood screening and transfusion,” Rep. Jerrold Nadler, Democrat of New York, said. “Our society and its laws must move beyond the offensive and incorrect stereotype that automatically links gay men to risky sexual practices and, therefore, to HIV/AIDS. If we are serious about addressing the national blood shortage, then we must repeal the FDA’s ban on gay blood donors now.”

“We have chronic shortages of blood donations in this country, yet the FDA continues to cling to an outdated policy that prevents hundreds of thousands of donations from reaching those in need every year,” Rep. Anthony Weiner, Democrat of New York, said. “Overturning this antiquated ban isn’t just a step in the right direction for equality–it’s a commonsense move that will save lives.”

“Advocates invested in any change of such a policy report a perceived disconnect between the positions of leading gay rights and hemophilia representatives. We reject this notion,” New York-based advocacy group Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC) said in a press release. “The communities have more in common than current discourse reflects. Both gay men and people with hemophilia have been disproportionately impacted by the HIV epidemic. Critical advancements in HIV prevention, treatment, and research can be linked directly to the years of successful advocacy by both communities. For most of the past quarter century, these two communities have worked toward shared goals, including caring for people living with HIV and preventing the virus’s spread.”

The release listed a number of organizations that “continue to share a strong commitment to the safety of our nation’s blood supply and it is with this in mind that we urge the ACBSA to recommend any scientific research that is necessary to allow for the thoughtful consideration of alternative policies regarding donor deferral. Read More→

Categories : Advocacy
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Jun
10

Sex Marker on US passports

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Beginning today, when a passport applicant presents a doctor’s certification that he or she has undergone treatment for gender transition, their passport will be updated to accurately reflect their sex. Sex reassignment surgery is no longer required to change the gender on an American passport. Read More→

Categories : LGBT Cancer
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Jun
09

FDA Gay Blood Ban

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The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will review the FDA policy on Wed, June 9, that bans any man who has ever sex with a man from donating blood.  The LGBT Cancer Project – Out With Cancer has been advocating for repeal of this ban. Representative Quigley (D-IL) and Senator Kerry (D-MA) are currently circulating a letter urging the FDA to end this discriminatory policy. Call today to ask your Representative and Senators to sign on!

Please contact your Representative and Senators by calling the Capitol Switchboard at 1-866-220-0044. Give the operator your zip code and they will connect you to your Senator or Representative. When you get through to the office, ask to speak to the staff member who handles the FDA blood ban. Tell that staff member or leave a message asking them to sign on to the letter. Representatives can do so by contacting Representative Quigley’s office, and Senators by contacting Senator Kerry.

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Jun
07

HHS Considers lifting Gay Blood Ban

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This week, the Department of Health and Human Services Blood Committee will review it’s policy on banning Gay men from donating blood. Read More→

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U.S. Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., didn’t mince words Thursday in calling for the repeal of the long-standing ban on gay men donating blood.

“Not a single piece of scientific evidence supports the ban,” Kerry said  in Bay Windows, a New England-based gay and lesbian newspaper.

A letter to the FDA — spearheaded by Kerry and signed by 20 other Senate Democrats — is more guarded, calling for the administration to review — and modify, if appropriate — the long-standing prohibition. Read More→

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May
30

Gay Blood Ban

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16 senators called on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to end the ban on blood donations by gay men. In a letter to FDA commissioner Margaret Hamburg on Thursday, the senators called the policy “medically and scientifically unsound” and called out the double standard placed on gay men who want to be donors. Read More→

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Gay men are banned from blood and bone marrow donations in the United States and Canada.  Aside from inequity, this impacts directly on the survival of cancer patients seeking bone marrow or blood donations from matching gay relatives.  It is time to change the policy for all men who have sex with men.


From an article in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal:  Since 1983, blood agencies in Canada, the United States and other industrialized countries have disallowed blood donations from men who have sex with men because of the possibility of infection with HIV/AIDS. The exclusion barred men who had sex with men from 1977 onwards as it was determined this date preceded the start of the AIDS epidemic. Read More→

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