Equality California
Assembly Approves Resolution Calling on Federal Government to Change Outdated Blood Donor Policy

2010 Press Releases

September 8, 2009

CONTACT: Vaishalee Raja, Equality California
PHONE: 916-284-9187 EMAIL: vaishalee@eqca.org

Assembly Approves Resolution Calling on Federal Government to Change Outdated Blood Donor Policy

Sacramento -- Today, the Assembly approved the U.S. Blood Donor Nondiscrimination Resolution (AJR 13) with a vote of 41-28. Sponsored by Equality California (EQCA) and introduced by Assemblymember Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco), the resolution calls on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to repeal its outdated and scientifically unnecessary rule prohibiting healthy gay and bisexual men from donating blood. If passed by both houses of the state Legislature, the resolution would put California on record in support of updated rules for blood donation, increasing the number of life-saving blood donations with no increase in risk of disease.

"No healthy and willing donor should ever be turned away," said EQCA Executive Director Geoff Kors. "Repealing this ban would provide a desperately needed increase to the nation’s blood supply and will help save more lives."

Current federal rules prohibit any man who has had a sexual relationship with another man in the past 31 years 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.

Adopted in 1983, the rule targeted gay and bisexual men because of fear over HIV/AIDS transmission, 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.

Today’s advanced blood screening technology allows us to detect and isolate blood containing the virus that causes HIV/AIDS,” said Assemblyman Ammiano. “The FDA is well aware of this technology as well as the erroneous and unscientific belief that the virus is only spread by gay and bisexual men. I hope President Obama hears our call to change this shameful and discriminatory practice immediately, so we can save more lives."

AJR 13 calls on the Secretary of Health and Human Services, which oversees the FDA, to adopt a policy that would repeal current guidelines. The resolution will move to committees in the Senate in January.

For more information about EQCA's other legislation, please visit us online at: www.eqca.org/legislation.

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