Gay men are pushing for an end to the 30-year old ban on their donating blood. Opponents say the efforts are driven by politics rather than science, and that it would compromise the safety of the blood supply.
The reason for the ban, of course, is the prevalence of HIV in the gay community. While the virus has no particular affinity for any sexual orientation, the microscopic damage done to the rectum by anal intercourse does provide an especially convenient mode of transmission. But advocates for the change say that the problem can be eliminated by the practice of "safe sex."
The Department of Health and Human Services Advisory Committee on Blood and Tissue Safety will hold hearings on Thursday.
ADDENDUM: According to a survey the CDC just released, 62% of self-reported HIV positive men have had unprotected anal sex with another man in the past year.