L.A. City Councilmembers O’Farrell, Bonin Call for End to Ban on Gay & Bisexual Men Giving Blood

Blood drive Two Los Angeles City Councilmembers today urged the federal government to end its ban on blood donated by men who have had sex with other men.

The restriction was put in place in 1983 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration when there was no way of testing for HIV in blood or plasma, according to a resolution introduced by councilmembers Mitch O’Farrell and Mike Bonin.

The prohibition applies to any man who has had sex with another man just once since 1977, and often affects men who identify as gay. The resolution calls on the FDA to repeal the policy and is supported by the American Red Cross and Los Angeles LGBT Center.

“There is no need to discriminate against gay men giving blood,” O’Farrell said. “We can do better than this, and through education, science and technology we have the ability. It’s about time we lift the stigma associated with HIV and free our culture of ignorance regarding this disease.”

The resolution has been referred to the City Council’s Rules, Elections and Intergovernmental Relations Committee. The ban on blood donations from men who have sexual history with other men lasts a lifetime, while bans based on other reasons–such as being diagnosed with a sexually transmitted disease or having had sex with prostitutes — often last no longer than a year.

“It’s irrational to differentiate sexual transmission of diseases based simply on the sex of the partner,” Dave Garcia, director of policy and community building at the Los Angeles LGBT Center, said. “This differentiation is unfair, creates stigma without any justifiable public health imperative and results in negative attitudes to blood donor eligibility criteria and blood collection facilities, and the center will do everything in its power to finally end this discrimination.'”

O’Farrell plans to protest and bring awareness to the FDA’s policy at a Sept. 20 “inclusive blood drive” in West Hollywood organized by The Human Rights Campaign and the Los Angeles LGBT Center.

At the event, those who cannot donate will be given incentives for recruiting others who are allowed to give blood.


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