Current federal rules established in 1983 prohibit any man who has had sex with another man at least once since 1977 from donating blood, regardless of other risk factors
San Francisco, CA - Today Supervisor Scott Wiener will introduce a resolution at the Board of Supervisors meeting calling for an end to the ban on blood donations by gay and bisexual men. Currently, the Federal Drug Administration prohibits any man who has had sex with another man since 1977 from donating blood. The rationale stated by the FDA for these rules, which were established in 1983 during the height of the AIDS epidemic, is that men who have sex with men are at the highest risk for having HIV/AIDS. The rule has not changed in over thirty years, despite advances in health, awareness, and screening practices.
"This archaic ban has no basis in public health and is discrimination, plain and simple," said Supervisor Wiener. "While it's important to have guidelines ensuring that blood donors are not engaging in risky behaviors, being gay or bisexual should not disqualify people. No one should be treated differently because of a difference in sexual orientation. The FDA needs to change these rules now."
There is a serious need for blood donors in the United States. Every two seconds, someone needs blood, and more than 41,000 blood donations are needed every day. A 2010 study by the Williams Institute at UCLA found that an end to the ban on gay men would result in 219,000 additional pints of blood being donated per year. As of July of last year, 21 countries had altered their policies to allow gay men to donate blood.
Last Friday, Supervisor Wiener joined people all across the country in taking part in the National Gay Blood Drive. The goal of the Blood Drive was to both increase blood donations and raise awareness about the discriminatory rules around blood donation. Like other gay men across the country, Supervisor Wiener - banned from donating blood - wrote a note to the FDA asking for a repeal of the current prohibition. The National Gay Blood Drive has also launched a petition aimed at the White House requesting a change to the law, which can be viewed at http://www.gayblooddrive.com