Senator John F. Kerry (D-MA) has asked the Food and Drug Administration to lift their 1983 ban on letting gay men donate blood. Kerry, among 16 Democrats and one independent, sent a letter to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg asking her to lift the "discriminatory" ban. "Not a single piece of scientific evidence supports the ban," said one senator in a statement. The ban was imposed during the height of the AIDS epidemic, even though the FDA currently tests blood donations for HIV and other diseases. Despite those efforts, the FDA defended the ban, saying, "The agency understands and respects the desire of everyone, including MSM [men who have sex with men] to donate blood and save lives."