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Indybay Feature
Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors Opposes FDA Gay Blood Ban
by Rose Ketabchi (rose [at] kpfa.org)
Tuesday Feb 26th, 2008 7:01 PM
The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously today to formally oppose a lifetime ban on gay male blood donors. Current food and drug administration rules, in effect since 1983, prohibit any man who’s had sex with another man to ever donate blood. Despite criticism from the Red Cross and others, the FDA says the ban is necessary to ensure the safety of blood recipients and should remain in effect. San Jose State University has taken a stand against the FDA prohibition with its own ban– of blood bank operations on campus. The Santa Clara County Supervisors stopped short of adopting a policy similar to San Jose State University’s because, they say, ultimately their goal is to increase blood donations and local supply. Rose Ketabchi reports. (3:25)
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Supervisor Ken Yeager is the first openly gay elected official in San Jose. He says the current restrictions in the FDA guidelines are unneccesary – not only that...
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The FDA banned gay men from donating blood in 1983. Blood banks started testing for HIV two years later, but the FDA is still enforcing the lifetime ban. Supervisor Yeager says there’s no medical reason to continue it.
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Last year, the Red Cross and the American Association of Blood Banks called on the FDA to reverse the lifetime ban, citing the fact that in most parts of the country, blood supplies are running critically low. Most of the donated blood we use here in the bay area comes from the midwest – it is, therefore, very expensive. All the donated blood, regardless of its source, undergoes thorough testing for everything from anemia to HIV but the FDA’s rules are still being applied to blood bank operations across the country. San Jose State University stopped sponsoring blood drives on its campus to protest what it calls discriminatory practices. Again, Supervisor Yeager:
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Santa Clara County Supervisors voted unanimously to formally oppose the FDA’s ban on homosexual men’s blood but the board didn’t go as far as San Jose State University has. Supervisor Pete McHugh registered his dissatisfaction saying the board should take a bolder move by stopping blood bank operations on county grounds.
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Former Supervisor of Disctrict 6, Peter Kutras, Jr. is now Santa Clara County Executive.
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Kutras says that the board should stay focused on getting more blood donors.
Supervisor Liz Kniss concurs.
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Reporting from San Jose for the KPFA evening news, I’m Rose Ketabchi.
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