LA County leaders call for ending discrimination against gay, bisexual men in blood donations amid shortage

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is calling on the FDA to drop certain blood donor policies that county leaders say are discriminatory against gay and bisexual men.

Supervisors Janice Hahn and Sheila Kuehl co-authored a motion directing the county to send a 5-signature letter to the FDA urging the reversal of restrictions that would prevent sexually active gay and bisexual men from donating blood.

The county's push for equity and inclusion in blood donation also comes as Southern California is hit with a blood shortage.

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"These outdated restrictions aren’t just discriminatory – they’re actively endangering the lives of people in need of blood," Hahn said in a press release. "As we face the worst blood shortage we’ve seen in a decade, we have an easy way to increase our blood supply while putting an end to a homophobic policy that targets people for who they are and who they love." 

According to the Board of Supervisors, the current blood donor policy requires gay or bisexual men to abstain from sex for a minimum of three months before they can donate blood. The ruling dates back to the HIV/AIDS crisis during the 1980s.

Kuehl argues a change in policy could result in donation of more than 600,000 additional pints of blood, citing a study from UCLA's Williams Institute.

"It is really counter-productive, senseless and discriminatory to prevent healthy and willing gay men from donating blood when we most need it," Kuehl said in a press release.

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