U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Allow gay/bisexual men to donate blood.
  • Petitioning U.S. Food and Drug Administration

This petition will be delivered to:

U.S. Food and Drug Administration

U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Allow gay/bisexual men to donate blood.

    1. M. Hernández, All R Equal, Inc.
    2. Petition by

      M. Hernández, All R Equal, Inc.

      Norman, OK

Why I started this petition:

As a gay man, I do not fit the stereotype of the promiscuous guy obsessed with sex. As a gay man, I am faced with a decision every day of my life to do what feels naturally in my relationship or still keep myself eligible to donate blood.  Even though in 2003, the Supreme Court of the United States eliminated the sodomy laws in Lawrance v. Texas, the policy set out by the U.S. F.D.A. still criminalizes an act of love between two consenting adults because of the old fear that gay men are infected with HIV/AIDS.  I do not want to have to continue to choose between being able to donate blood over love.

 

Please visit our website to learn more about the project, data, statistics, and our efforts to change the policy at http://www.weallrequal.com.  In short ...

 

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (source: A):

"Men who have had sex with other men, at any time since 1977 (the beginning of the AIDS epidemic in the United States) are currently deferred as blood donors."

 

Their main arguments are:

1) "Blood donor testing using current advanced technologies has greatly reduced the risk of HIV transmission but cannot yet detect all infected donors or prevent all transmission by transfusions.”

2) "Detection of HIV infection is particularly challenging when very low levels of virus are present in the blood for example during the so-called "window period". The "window period" is the time between being infected with HIV and the ability of an HIV test to detect HIV in an infected person."

 

However:

1) Heterosexuals with multiple partners are allowed to donate blood despite their increased risk for transmitting HIV and hepatitis.

2) The United Kingdom, which recently lifted its lifetime ban in September 2011, instead, allows gay men to donate blood provided that they have not had sex with another man for at least one year (source: B).  This is four times longer the amount of time necessary for HIV to reach detectable levels after infection (source: C).

 

The current ban affects all of us, not only gay men. It extends to those who have slept with a bisexual/gay man who has had sex with men, whether they are male or female. This ban has affected sperm donation policies among gay/bisexual men too, and even to organ donations policies.

 

Solution:

If the all-out ban on homosexuals/Bisexuals donating blood is reduced to only those who have had a promiscuous sexual contact with another man in the past year, the increased number of potential donors would increase and help the blood pool grow while still keeping the blood supply safe.  This petition would allow committed long-term monogamous men to donate blood.

Thus the new pre-screening question should be: Male donors: Have you had unprotected sexual contact with a new male partner in the past 12 months? (Females: check "I am female.")

Please sign this petition to urge the FDA to revise their outdated policies, by remove this excessive and unnecessary ban that prevents homosexuals/bisexuals from donating blood.  

References:

A) U.S. FDA, cited 2012: Questions about Blood & Blood Donations from Men Who Have Sex with Other Men Questions and Answers. [Available online at http://www.fda.gov/] 

B) BBC News, cited 2012: Gay Man Donor Ban to be Lifted. [Avablable online at http://www.bbc.co.uk/] 

C) Avert, cited 2012: HIV Testing. [Available online at http://www.avert.org/testing.htm]  

 

Recent signatures

    News

    1. How the gay blood ban affects cancer patience

      M. Hernández, All R Equal, Inc.
      Petition Organizer
      How the gay blood ban affects cancer patients

      Cancer is defined as any malignant growth or tumor caused by abnormal and uncontrolled cell division. Currently, there are about 200 different types of cancer, which can affect 60 different organs in our body. Cancer does affect organs that take part in producing red blood cells, and thus may decrease the production of red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets.

    2. Student's petition to allow gay men to donate blood hits 12,000 signatures

      M. Hernández, All R Equal, Inc.
      Petition Organizer
      Student's petition to allow gay men to donate blood hits 12,000 signatures

      Under current Food and Drug Administration guidelines, men who have had sex with another man once since 1977 cannot donate blood, which limits the pool of available donors. Since November 2012, when Hernandez lobbied for signatures on OU's campus, about 5,555 more people have signed.

    3. COLUMN: Obsolete rule prevents gay men from giving blood

      M. Hernández, All R Equal, Inc.
      Petition Organizer

      Excerpt:
      "This is a form of inequality that fuels an unjustified hate towards gay men,” All R Equal founder Michael Hernandez said. “I have run into many people who think that if both men are HIV negative and have sex with each other, even if monogamous, God will strike them down with HIV. This makes no sense at all.”

      All R Equal is a non-profit organization geared towards petitioning to allow gay men to donate blood while promoting gender and LGBT equality.

      Obsolete rule prevents gay men from giving blood

      Micah Wormley Donating blood is considered to be an act of heroism, charity and selflessness. With OU hosting a blood drive this week in connection with the Oklahoma Blood Institute, it's important to be aware of a disconcerting issue associated with donating blood. According to the Red Cross, someone in the U.S needs blood every two seconds.

    4. Reached 10,000 signatures
    5. OPED: It's time the US eased the ban on gay men giving blood

      M. Hernández, All R Equal, Inc.
      Petition Organizer

      Gay Star News (3.29.2012)

      It's time the US eased the ban on gay men giving blood

      When was the last time you thought about being a superhero and saving a life? When I ask people, 'Who is an everyday superhero?' you might answer a firefighter, police officer, doctor, those in the military who serve our country. But we can all potentially be a superhero.

    6. Reached 9,000 signatures
    7. Presentation: Let's Remove the Gay Blood Ban

      M. Hernández, All R Equal, Inc.
      Petition Organizer

      TEDxOU Talk: (1.25.2013) --> http://youtu.be/-pJnxIOjptU

      Let's Remove the Gay Blood Ban: Michael Hernandez at TEDxOU
      Michael Hernandez created an online movement, called All R Equal, Inc., which fights for equality for blood donors. Michael's petition on Change.org, has garnished nearly 8,000 signatures to allow men who sleep with men, even once, the right to donate blood, which currently hasn't been allowed since 1981.

    8. Reached 8,000 signatures
    9. Reached 7,000 signatures
    10. Front Page Article: OU Grad Student petitioning FDA ...

      M. Hernández, All R Equal, Inc.
      Petition Organizer

      An article where I was interview based on this petition (11.14.2012)

      OUDaily.com | OU graduate student petitioning FDA to permit gay men to donate blood, backed by student groups

      OU graduate student petitioning FDA to permit gay men to donate blood, backed by student groups When one Sooner came out as a gay man almost a year ago, he found out some disheartening news - he couldn't donate blood ever again during his lifetime if he had sex with another man.

    11. ED: Baseless blood donor restrictions risk lives

      M. Hernández, All R Equal, Inc.
      Petition Organizer

      This OPED came out from the University of Oklahoma dealing with the blood donor drive to help make up the deficit of blood donations caused by this ban, while at the same time talking about this petition. (11.13.2012)

      OUDaily.com | EDITORIAL: Baseless blood donor restrictions risk lives

      Our View: Blood donation eligibility should be based on health, not identity. If you've ever wanted to donate blood but didn't, it was probably because you dislike needles or happened to be sick at the time. But a certain group of Americans cannot donate blood even if they choose to - and it's not because of a health problem or a phobia.

    12. Op-ed: Gay Blood Donation Boycots Can Also Be Dangerous

      M. Hernández, All R Equal, Inc.
      Petition Organizer

      HIV Plus Magazine (10.9.2012)

      Op-ed: Gay Blood Donation Boycotts Can Also Be Dangerous

      The choices we make are not always easy. For a gay man like myself, the choice between expressing our love physically and remaining eligible blood donors can be among the most difficult. However, not all are even aware that they are making this choice until they are donating blood at work to save a loved one's life.

    13. Reached 6,000 signatures
    14. Let2Ed: Change blood donation rules for men who have sex with men

      M. Hernández, All R Equal, Inc.
      Petition Organizer

      San Diego Gay & Lesbian News (9.26.2012)

      LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Change blood donation rules for men who have sex with men

      Michael Hernandez September 26th, 2012 It is well known that 20% of gay men are HIV-positive and that 25% of HIV-positive people are unaware of their positive status. This means that roughly 5% of gay men are HIV-positive and they don't even know it.

    15. 5000 signatures, but we still need your help!

      M. Hernández, All R Equal, Inc.
      Petition Organizer

      Unfortunately, this ban on has caused the following protests across the nation’s universities in the past decade:

      Jan. 2006: University of Vermont turned down a request of a student to ban blood drives on campus.
      Mar. 2007: Iowa State University student organizations withdraw from their schools annual blood drive and 500 pints of blood were lost as a result of this.
      Jan. 2008: San Jose State University officially and publically stopped sponsoring blood drives. The Stanford Blood Center responded to this protest and stated that blood centers nationwide now routinely use two different tests for HIV detection.
      Jun. 2008: Sonoma State University faculty senate was unsuccessful from banning blood drives at the school.
      Oct. 2011: CUNY had been thinking of remove blood drive off campus while still promoting them, though this may still affect the overall amount that gets donated in the end.

      Maintaining this ban keeps blood supplies low, but protesting is doing harm than good.

    16. Reached 5,000 signatures
    17. Reached 4,000 signatures
    18. 2500+ signatures! Please keep forwarding this petition.

      M. Hernández, All R Equal, Inc.
      Petition Organizer

      The U.S. FDA has a survey in order to donate blood and they allow heterosexual people to donate blood even if they came in sexual contact in the past year with someone who has HIV/AIDS. The U.S. FDA justifies this by stating, “Also, blood donations are now tested for seven different infectious agents.” (source: A)

      In 2003 scientists assert “if such [gay men] donors were included in the pool, the mean risk increment for a random donation would be in the order of 1 in 11 million… the incremental risk would be very low, although not zero.” They also state that there are “parameters that were more difficult to estimate... we usually assumed a worst-case scenario.” (source: B)

      References:
      A) http://www.fda.gov/BiologicsBloodVaccines/BloodBloodProducts/ApprovedProducts/LicensedProductsBLAs/BloodDonorScreening/
      B) Germain, M., Remis, R.S., and Delage, G. The risks and benefits of accepting men who have had sex with men as blood donors. Transfusion 2003; 43:25-33.

    19. Reached 3,000 signatures
    20. 1000+ signatures have been gathered! Please keep forwarding this petition.

      M. Hernández, All R Equal, Inc.
      Petition Organizer

      Per request of additional research:

      "Summer is one of the most difficult times of the year for the Red Cross to recruit enough blood donors to meet the needs of patients..." because "schools are not in session, businesses are on holiday schedules and people are on vacation." (source: A)

      Allowing a five-year abstention deferral on gay men to donate blood, there is a potential of about 85,000 new donors, while a one-year deferral would yield 3,300,000 new donors. Given that approximately 16% are willing to donate, that would lead to an increase of 71,400 donors for a 5-year deferral, and 139,000 donors for a 1-year deferral. (source: B)

      References:
      A) http://www.redcross.org/portal/site/en/menuitem.1a019a978f421296e81ec89e43181aa0/?vgnextoid=892552aa0d9b7310VgnVCM10000089f0870aRCRD
      B) FDA workshop on behavior-based donor deferrals in NAT era; 2006 Mar. 8; Bethesda(MD). US Department of Health and Human Services, Food and Drug Administration.

    Supporters

    Reasons for signing

    • Angela Nelson CHICAGO, IL
      • 1 day ago

      We need blood. Lots of gay/bisexual men are more careful about sex than heterosexual folks.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Samuel Cooper WILMINGTON, NC
      • 2 days ago

      I have to hide who I am to donate blood. It might be illegal, but the benefits by far outweigh the risks. Besides,

      I'm STD free and more safe than the average person who donates so I don't understand the problem aside from archaic stereotyping and laws preventing me from legally doing this. Let us legally donate already.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Charles Hardy LA MESA, CA
      • 5 days ago

      Since all blood donations are thoroughly screened for blood born pathogens who cares what the sexual orientation of the donor is.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Seth Wagner BUFFALO, NY
      • 6 days ago

      I am a universal receiver (AB+ Blood Group, all antigens) and a gay man. I used to donate whole blood before I learned that donating platelets and plasma was far more valuable. I am the universal donor for plasma (because I have no antibodies in my plasma). The process takes far longer (2-3 hours minimum) and requires making an appointment in advance. Plasma/Platelet "drives" at different locations are not possible because of the equipment. Due to the time investment, fewer people do it. Platelets and plasma do not have the same shelf-life that whole blood does, thus making it is just as (if not more) valuable. After I came out, I was "permanently deferred." I know my HIV status; it's negative. I get tested on a yearly basis at my physical. I am healthy. I had one partner over two years ago, none since. I am very careful. Yet a straight man who sleep with multiple women, can donate blood unhindered? Why am I the threat to public health?

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Conner Thayer SAN MARCOS, TX
      • 7 days ago

      I think it is unjust and discriminatory towards LBGT community

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:

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