Officials fight to end blood donation policy

February 12, 2008 12:01:22 AM PST
A Santa Clara county supervisor is poised to help end the ban on gay men donating blood.

A 1983 FDA ban on any man who has had sex with another man from giving blood also caused San Jose state to suspend blood drives on campus.

Santa Clara County is ready to lobby the us congress and the senate to change the fda's restriction.

Kevin Nguyen with the Billy De Frank LBGT center in San Jose argues the FDA ban is outdated and unnecessary.

"The problems are real affecting people every day who need organs and tissues to survive. we as gay men are ready to address the problem along with others around but we are banned from doing so," said Nguyen.

The FDA imposed the ban on blood donations by gay men during the years that AIDS HIV and Hepatitis b arrived in the gay community.

Medical experts from the American Association of Blood Banks and the Red Cross in 2006 said blood can now be successfully screened for those viruses and diseases.

Santa Clara county supervisor Ken Yeager who is openly gay is urging his county to end the ban.

"I will be asking the county to oppose the FDA guidelines then if the committee decides to do that ask the full board for a vote," said Santa Clara County Supervisor Ken Yeager.

The county will then ask its federal representatives to lobby congress and the senate to end the FDA restriction.

Supervisor Yeager wants the county to create a groundswell of public opinion that will help change the FDA restrictions. He credits San Jose Sate University with initiating the effort.

The San Jose State University ban on campus blood drives began last month after it called the ban discriminatory.

The Stanford blood center is concerned.

"It's wrong to put the lives of patients at risk while you're trying to influence federal policy," said Dr. Susan Galel from Stanford Blood Center.

Supervisor Yeager's committee will vote to make its recommendations to the full board this Thursday.