EQCA
Equality California
Measure Would Put California on Record against Discrimination in Blood Donations

2010 Press Releases

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 3, 2009

CONTACT: Brian Richardson
PHONE: 504-909-0580 EMAIL: brian@eqca.org

Measure Would Put California on Record against Discrimination in Blood Donations

Resolution calls on Administration to repeal current discriminatory policy

Sacramento -- Assemblymember Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) introduced the U.S. Blood Donor Nondiscrimination Resolution this week, calling on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to repeal its outdated and discriminatory rule prohibiting healthy gay and bisexual men from donating blood. Sponsored by Equality California (EQCA), the resolution would put California on record in support of updated rules for blood donation, increasing the number of viable blood donations and, in turn, save additional lives.

"No healthy and willing donor should ever be turned away," said EQCA Executive Director Geoff Kors. "This policy unnecessarily discriminates against gay and bisexual men as it provides zero additional protection to our blood supply. To the contrary, the result of this discrimination is fewer units of medically necessary blood."

Under existing federal rules, any man who has had a sexual relationship with another man in the past 31 years is automatically prevented from donating blood at any facility, regardless of personal health. The law prevents innumerable gay and bisexual men who are otherwise healthy from contributing to the nation's blood supply, which faces chronic shortfalls due to a lack of donations. In 2007, the Red Cross reported that Southern California's blood supply had reached critical levels, resulting in a record low four-hour supply of type-O negative blood. More recently, in January, the New York Blood Center began rationing its supply to hospitals in and around New York City because of a shortfall there.

The discriminatory rule was first imposed in 1983 targeting gay and bisexual men because of fear over HIV/AIDS, when little was known about the disease or how it is spread. Today, a better understanding of the disease and significant innovations in blood screening technology make the fear of HIV/AIDS spreading through the blood supply nearly nonexistent. Despite significant technological advances, the current federal policy remains.

"Blood has no sexual orientation, and the FDA should have no discrimination," said Ammiano upon introducing the bill. "I hope President Obama hears our call to change this shameful and discriminatory practice immediately so we can save more lives."

The bill calls the Secretary of Health and Human Services, which oversees the FDA, to adopt a policy that would repeal current guidelines. The resolution also calls on the President to publicly encourage this change.

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Equality California (EQCA) is the largest statewide lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender-rights advocacy organization in California. In the past decade, EQCA has strategically moved California from a state with extremely limited legal protections for LGBT individuals to a state with some of the most comprehensive civil-rights protections in the nation. EQCA has passed over 50 pieces of legislation and continues to advance equality through legislative advocacy, public education and community empowerment. www.eqca.org