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U.S. Sen. Baldwin joins call to lift ban against gays giving blood

WASHINGTON D.C. (WTAQ) - U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin says gay men should have the right to give blood.

Baldwin has joined 83 other Senate and House Democrats in urging Health-and-Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to end the ban – which was adopted in the 1980’s when AIDS first spread, and gay men had higher infection rates.

The Gannett News Service obtained the Democrats’ letter, which said the ban on blood donations by gays is quote, “at atmosphere that promotes discrimination.”

Baldwin – the nation’s first openly gay U.S. senator – said there have been dramatic improvements in blood screening since the ‘80’s, and doctors now have a better understanding of the HIV virus.

The American Medical Association has joined Baldwin and other Democrats in opposing the ban.

They say blood donors should be determined by health factors, and not their sexual orientation.

AIDS can also be spread by blood transfusions – and for that reason, the National Hemophilia Foundation says it’s too soon to lift the ban on gay blood donors.

Foundation vice president John Indence said the science behind any change needs to be sound.