"Bad Blood" Documentary Opens
July 27, 2010 – Bad Blood: A Cautionary Tale, directed by Marilyn Ness, a documentary ten years in the making, will premiere the week of July 26 in New York City as the launch of a multi-city theatrical screening series co-hosted by a coalition of national gay rights and hemophilia advocacy groups including Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC), Committee of Ten Thousand (COTT), Hemophilia Federation of America (HFA), National Hemophilia Foundation (NHF), and World Federation of Hemophilia (WFH).
The film documents the tragic history and facts surrounding the discovery of HIV in the U.S. blood supply in the early days of the AIDS epidemic.
On the heels of the Health and Human Services (HHS) Blood Committee’s vote last month to recommend research and review of the FDA’s longstanding deferral of all men who have had sex with another man (MSM) from donating blood, the two communities invested in reform find common ground through the shared history featured in Bad Blood.
Earlier this year, 17 Congressmen led by Senator John Kerry (MA) approached the FDA to reconsider the deferral of
MSM blood donors. As the Health and Human Services Blood Safety Committee convened to consider the
recommendation, GMHC along with other AIDS Alliance members and the plasma-users coalition – organizations with
a strong commitment to the safety of our nation’s blood supply – issued a joint statement urging the FDA to recommend
any scientific research that is necessary to allow for the thoughtful consideration of alternative policies regarding donor
Filmmaker Marilyn Ness explains, “Each of us owes the hemophilia community a debt of gratitude for their unintended
and tragic role in alerting the country to the contamination of the U.S. blood supply with HIV and hepatitis from the
1970s through the 1990s. Since then, the bleeding disorders groups stand as guardians of the nation’s blood supply
and are now joined in their advocacy efforts by Gay Men’s Health Crisis. I am tremendously gratified that ‘Bad Blood’
has united these two groups to work together toward blood safety and FDA reform on behalf of all Americans. I can
think of no more fitting a memorial for those who were unnecessarily lost than to continue their work ensuring history
will never again be repeated.”
Through the eyes of survivors and family members, the documentary film “Bad Blood” chronicles how a miracle
treatment for hemophilia became an agent of death for 10,000 Americans. Faced with evidence that pharmaceutical
companies and government regulators knew the medicine was contaminated with deadly viruses, they launched a
powerful and inspiring fight to right the system that failed them and to make it safer for all. The film brings together
patients, doctors, drug manufacturers, and government regulators to recollect how the worst medical disaster of the
20th Century was allowed to occur and cautions us to remember, remain vigilant, and to demand a safer system. The
hosts of this screening believe harnessing the devastating history chronicled in “Bad Blood” will inform the future of
blood safety for every American.
“The lessons learned from this tragic time should not be forgotten. Out of this tragedy and similar experiences worldwide, a new era of safe and effective treatment products emerged,” said Mark Skinner, President, World
Federation of Hemophilia. “However, there is a continual need for worldwide vigilance to prevent history from being
Marjorie Hill, CEO, Gay Men’s Health Crisis added, “as GMHC continues to advocate for revised blood donation
guidelines for gay men, ‘Bad Blood’ reminds us of the devastating history that informs the future of blood safety.”
Both gay men and people with hemophilia have been disproportionately impacted by the HIV epidemic. In the early
1980s, as HIV breached the nation’s blood supply, nearly 90% of Americans with severe hemophilia, a rare bleeding
disorder, became either infected or co-infected with HIV and hepatitis from contaminated blood-based medications;
more than 50% have since died. Critical advancements in HIV prevention, treatment, and research can be linked
directly to the years of successful advocacy by both the bleeding disorders and gay rights communities.
For more information please visit http://www.badblooddocumentary.com/.