Need support, need to talk? Call 1-800-243-7692
GMHC - Fight Aids. Love Life.

GMHC Statement On World Blood Donor Day

6.13.2018

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Cub Barrett | 212-367-1561 | Cubb@gmhc.org

 

NEW YORK, NY – The following is a statement from Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC) CEO Kelsey Louie on World Blood Donor Day.

STATEMENT FROM GMHC CEO KELSEY LOUIE:

 “On World Blood Donor Day, as we honor individuals across the world who voluntarily donate their blood to save lives, we must unite to call for an end to the Food and Drug Administration’s ongoing, discriminatory policy for gay and bisexual male blood donors.

“Modern science enables us to evaluate all blood donors equally regardless of their identity, yet men who have sex with men (MSM) are still subject to different standards that perpetuate the stereotype that all gay and bisexual men are inherently dangerous. Our government must stop reacting to HIV as it did during the dark days of the AIDS crisis. With this discriminatory policy against MSM, the FDA is not just refusing blood that will save lives, but also enforcing stigmas that fuel the HIV epidemic, shaming people into the shadows and discouraging them from coming forward to seek treatment.

“Amidst a stream of discriminatory policies from the federal government against the LGBT community, it is important that we remain strong and united to defend our rights, our dignity and our health.”

Background
From 1985 to December 2015, gay and bisexual men were outright banned from donating their blood on the basis that their sexual behavior places them at high risk for HIV. As of December 2015, the FDA revised its policy with a twelve-month deferral plan, allowing MSM to donate blood as long as they have been celibate for one year. Heterosexual individuals are given no such restrictions, even if their sexual behavior places them at high risk for HIV. Other countries have implemented risk-based deferral systems that reflect modern science and screen all donors for behavior that could lead to HIV transmission. The FDA’s policy continues to be shaped by stigma rather than science.

In 2015, GMHC CEO Kelsey Louie and eight other gay men donated their blood to be used in a sculpture titled Blood Mirror, by the artist Jordan Eagles. The sculpture, unveiled in September 2015, advocates for equality and protests the FDA’s discriminatory ban on gay and bisexual men who wish to donate blood. 

 

 ###

About Gay Men's Health Crisis: Gay Men's Health Crisis (GMHC) is the world's first HIV/AIDS service organization. GMHC is on the front lines providing services to over 12,000 people living with and affected by HIV/AIDS. Programs include: testing, prevention, nutrition, legal, supportive housing, mental health and substance use services. GMHC also advocates for stronger public policies at the local, state and federal levels with the goal of ending AIDS as an epidemic. For more information, visit  www.gmhc.org.