Tagline: Until the Work Is Done
California Legislature Adopts Equality California-Sponsored Resolution on Blood Donation Policies
September 4, 2015 at 3:42 pm

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 4, 2015

CONTACT: Jason Howe, Equality California
PHONE: (323) 848-9801/MOBILE: (415) 595-9245/EMAIL: jason@eqca.org

Sacramento – Yesterday, the California Legislature adopted Assembly Joint Resolution (AJR) 16, authored by Assemblymembers Richard Bloom, Eduardo Garcia, and Evan Low and sponsored by Equality California. This resolution was brought forward in response to the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) revised blood donor guidelines, which continue to discriminate against gay and bisexual men. AJR 16 calls on President Obama to encourage the Secretary of Health and Human services to direct the FDA to develop science-based protocols that focus on real individual risk rather than guidelines that discriminate against gay and bisexual men as a group. AJR 16 supports Equality California’s broader campaign to change federal blood donation policies, which includes engagement with federal lawmakers, advocates, and FDA officials.

“This Resolution puts the State of California on record once again that federal blood donation guidelines must be based on modern science and individual behavior, not discrimination and ignorance. We are so grateful for the leadership of our partners Assemblymembers Richard Bloom, Eduardo Garcia and Evan Low in urging the FDA to change direction,” said Rick Zbur, executive director of Equality California. “As it stands now, the proposed one-year deferral policy still prohibits all sexually active gay and bisexual men from giving blood. A gay man who has repeatedly tested negative for HIV and who is in a monogamous relationship cannot donate, while others who engage in high-risk behaviors can. This is unfair and discriminatory, and the FDA can and must do better.”

“The FDA’s proposed one-year deferral policy continues to stigmatize gay and bisexual men,” said Assemblymember Richard Bloom. “Today’s blood testing technology and screening techniques are reliable methods for preventing transfusion-related transmission of disease. A one-year deferral is unnecessary and not based on science.”

“The 12 month deferral policy for gay and bisexual men to donate blood is ridiculous and not even based on science,” said Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia. “Our resolution is about equality and that every single Californian should be treated fairly when donating blood to help save lives.”

“While the Department of Health and Human Services and FDA action is an important first step in lifting the lifetime ban on gay and bisexual men to donate blood, the current recommendation for a one-year deferral period for gay men is still discriminatory,” said Assemblymember Evan Low. “I join the Legislature in urging the departments to continue to explore safe alternative policies that would allow individuals in the LGBT community to donate blood as equal members of society.”

Equality California has advocated that the FDA replace antiquated blood donation guidelines that focus on sexual orientation with modern science-based guidelines that focus on risk factors. Outside of the United States, countries such as Spain, Italy, Russia, Mexico and Portugal have adopted blood donation policies that assess risk based on an individual’s behavior instead of their sexual orientation.

In October of 2014, Equality California launched the mobilization campaign, “Every Drop Counts,” urging the Department of Health and Human Services and the Food and Drug Administration to end the discriminatory lifetime ban on blood donations from men who have sex with men. As a result of the campaign, the LGBT community and its allies sent thousands of letters and emails to the FDA calling for change. Equality California is also partnering with the national law and lobbying firm Brownstein Hyatt Farber Scheck (BHFS) to bring an end to the FDA’s three-decade old ban. The BHFS team has years of experience and savvy in public health, law, and policy.

“As they stand now, the guidelines prevent countless gay and bisexual men from making life-saving donations to the nation’s blood supply,” continued Zbur. “Equality California is redoubling its efforts to change this unfair policy, and we thank Assemblymembers Bloom, Garcia and Low, and the California Legislature, for standing with us.”

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Equality California is the nation’s largest statewide lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization dedicated to creating a fair and just society. Our mission is to achieve and maintain full and lasting equality, acceptance, and social justice for all people in our diverse LGBT communities, inside and outside of California. Our mission includes advancing the health and well-being of LGBT Californians through direct healthcare service advocacy and education. Through electoral, advocacy, education and mobilization programs, we strive to create a broad and diverse alliance of LGBT people, educators, government officials, communities of color and faith, labor, business, and social justice communities to achieve our goals. www.eqca.org


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