O’FARRELL INTRODUCES RESOLUTION CALLING FOR END TO GAY BLOOD BAN

LOS ANGELES - City Councilmembers Mitch O'Farrell and Mike Bonin introduced a resolution today, with support from the Los Angeles LGBT Center, which calls for the Federal government to end the discrimination of gay men giving blood at donation drives.

The current federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) lifetime donor deferral policy, first established in 1983 when the FDA had no way of testing blood or plasma for HIV, effectively prohibits blood donation by men who have had sex with another man even one time since 1977.

"There is no need to discriminate against gay men for giving blood," said O'Farrell who chairs the City's Arts, Parks, Health, Aging, and the Los Angeles River Committee. "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."

O’Farrell and Bonin’s resolution was sent to the City’s Rules, Elections, and Intergovernmental Relations Committee. The resolution will add Los Angeles to the growing list of cities that support the end of this controversial policy.

“It’s irrational to differentiate sexual transmission of diseases based simply on the sex of the partner,” said Dave Garcia, Director of Policy and Community Building at the LA LGBT Center. “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.”

The American Medical Association (AMA) voted on June 18, 2013, to oppose the decades long ban by the FDA finding it is discriminatory and not based on sound science, and recommends that each donor be evaluated on an individual basis and not based on their sexual orientation alone.

Blood banks in the United States routinely operate with a short blood supply. After significant disasters or national emergencies, the American Association of Blood Banks (AABB), America’s Blood Centers (ABC), and ARC have each reported regions operating with less than two days supply of blood

The resolution directs staff to report back to committee and include research from the American Red Cross and the LA LGBT Center.

On September 20, 2014, the Human Rights Campaign along with the LA LGBT Center are co-sponsoring a blood drive in West Hollywood to bring attention to the current FDA deferral policy and help save lives. Councilmember O’Farrell will attend this event. [INFO]

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