LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Los Angeles city officials introduced a resolution Tuesday calling for the U.S. government to lift a longstanding prohibition on gay men giving blood at donation drives.
The resolution (PDF) from Councilmen Mitch O’Farrell and Mike Bonin cited support from the American Red Cross for the measure, which calls for the city to support any legislation that would repeal current blood donor policies which prohibit donations.
Current federal Food and Drug Administration lifetime donor deferral policy, which was first established in 1983 before the FDA had the ability to test blood or plasma for HIV, effectively prohibits blood donation by men who have had sex with another man since 1977.
The resolution also directs staff to report back to committee and include research from the American Red Cross and the LA LGBT Center.
Since the beginning of the AIDS epidemic in 1977, the FDA has deferred donations from gay blood donors over increased risk for HIV, hepatitis B and certain other infections that can be transmitted by transfusion.
The FDA has publicly stated its policy is based solely on “the documented increased risk of certain transfusion transmissible infections, such as HIV, associated with male-to-male sex” and not “on any judgment concerning the donor’s sexual orientation.”
But in June 2013, the American Medical Association opposed the decades-long ban by the FDA on the grounds that it is discriminatory and not based on sound science. The AMA also recommended that each donor be evaluated on an individual basis and not based on sexual orientation alone.
“There is no need to discriminate against gay men for giving blood,” said O’Farrell, who chairs the 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.”
The measure would make LA one of about 60 cities nationwide to support similar calls to lift the FDA restrictions.
O’Farrell and Bonin’s resolution was forwarded to the Rules, Elections, and Intergovernmental Relations Committee.