PUBLIC INFORMATION CAMPAIGN SPOTLIGHTS
FDA BAN ON GAY MEN DONATING BLOOD
LA Pride Press Release – Amid record crowds at LA PRIDE, the largest annual LGBT celebration in Southern California, an important public information campaign sought to draw attention to the ban on gay men donating blood. Utilizing a “blood drive,” and in line with the mission of Christopher Street West to spotlight significant issues affecting the LGBT community, almost 2,100 attendees were informed or reminded that since 1985, the Food and Drug Administration has banned, for life, sexually active gay men from donating blood. During LA PRIDE, 2,085 attendees were given detailed information about this policy and then signed a petition in support of efforts to lift the ban. Each signature represented one pint of blood collected, for a total of 2,085 pints, which could have saved over 6,000 lives.
The LA PRIDE “Blood Drive” bolsters recent momentum to revise the FDA policy. Last year, a similar ban was revised in England, Scotland and Wales which now allows gay men to give blood if they haven’t had sex with another man for at least one year. Earlier this month, Senator John Kerry and Rep. Mike Quigley voiced support for a new pilot study reviewing the policy being conducted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In an op-ed, they wrote, “In the 27 years since (the FDA ban was enacted), we have seen vast advances in blood screening technology, policy changes in other nations, and staunch opposition from the nation’s blood banks who have called the current ban medically and scientifically unwarranted. Our current policies turn away healthy, willing donors, even when we face serious blood shortages.”
Just this week, the American Red Cross called upon all eligible donors “to step up, roll up a sleeve and give blood or platelets as soon as possible” as the nation’s blood supply has dropped to emergency levels. This shortfall leaves only about half of the readily available blood on hand today than at this time last year.
“The FDA’s ban was put into place during the very early days of the AIDS epidemic when so little was known about the disease,” said Dr. Steve Ganzell, Christopher Street West Board of Directors. “Today, fueled by recent attempts to revise the policy at the national level plus grass roots’ efforts like those at LA PRIDE, we are calling attention to what many perceive as a discriminatory, hurtful and unnecessary relic of a time gone by that says the blood of gay men is dirty.”
According to the American Red Cross, each pint of donated blood can save three lives. Thus, collectively, the blood donated at LA PRIDE could have saved more than 6,000 people. Richard Benjamin, Chief Medical Officer of the American Red Cross, recently told The Washington Post, “…HIV was a much bigger threat to the U.S. blood supply decades ago but that scientific advances have allowed much earlier and better detection of the virus that causes AIDS.” Benjamin is calling for the ban to be shortened to one year.
With a re-energized vision that included a vibrant pool party, top name talent across two stages, 5 dance venues and the colorful Pride Parade, LA PRIDE for 2012 shattered attendance records with well over 400,000 in West Hollywood for the parade and more than 45,000 event tickets issued for Saturday and Sunday. LA PRIDE 2013 is June 7-9 in West Hollywood. Stay connected on Facebook, Twitter and LAPRIDE.org.
?ABOUT CHRISTOPHER STREET WEST
?Christopher Street West?produces?the annual Los Angeles LGBT PRIDE celebration in West Hollywood.?A 501(c) 3 non-profit organization, CSW?is a leading partner in the advancement of human rights, education, outreach and equality for?the LGBT community. Lead by a professional, all-volunteer board of directors, CSW produces one of the largest PRIDE celebrations in the United States and hosted the world’s first PRIDE Parade in 1970.