FDA opens door to end­ing gay blood do­na­tion ban

GA Voice - - Georgianews -

It was an­other rough night for LGBT can­di­dates in Ge­or­gia on July 26 as both in the run­ning lost, with all six of statewide LGBT ad­vo­cacy or­ga­ni­za­tion Ge­or­gia Equal­ity’s en­dorsed can­di­dates com­ing up short as well.

Valerie Vie, a les­bian fam­ily law at­tor­ney, gar­nered 37 per­cent of the vote to at­tor­ney Wil­liam Bod­die Jr.’s 63 per­cent in the race in House Dis­trict 62, which in­cludes por­tions of Col­lege Park, Dou­glasville, East Point, and por­tions of Ful­ton and DeKalb coun­ties.

Vie emerged from a crowded field in the May 24 pri­mary that in­cluded openly gay com­mu­nity ac­tivist and flight at­ten­dant Rafer John­son and had hoped to snag a cov­eted seat on the House Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee with a win—there is no Repub­li­can op­po­si­tion in No­vem­ber so a win would have made her the fourth openly LGBT law­maker in the state leg­is­la­ture. But Bod­die came out on top, no doubt due in part to a three-toone fundrais­ing mar­gin. Vie con­grat­u­lated Bod­die on the win via her Face­book page.

The other race with an openly LGBT can­di­date was for Su­pe­rior Court judge in Ful­ton County. Openly gay fam­ily law at­tor­ney, Ful­ton County mag­is­trate and hear­ing of­fi­cer Gary Alem­bik lost to Eric Du­n­away by a 12 point mar­gin. If elected, Alem­bik would have been the se­cond openly LGBT Su­pe­rior Court judge in Ful­ton County (join­ing Jane Bar­wick) and the first openly gay male. The U.S. Food and Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion sig­naled on July 26 that it is reeval­u­at­ing its pol­icy on blood do­na­tions by gay and bi­sex­ual men, less than a year af­ter chang­ing its for­mer pol­icy and less than two months since the Or­lando shoot­ing brought re­newed scru­tiny about the is­sue. The cur­rent pol­icy pro­hibits do­na­tions from any men who have had sex with an­other man in the pre­vi­ous year.

The news came in the form of a no­tice posted to the Fed­eral Reg­is­ter, which is ba­si­cally a clear­ing­house for the daily go­ings-on of the U.S. fed­eral gov­ern­ment. The no­tice said that the FDA is estab­lish­ing a pub­lic docket for com­ment about its cur­rent blood do­na­tion pol­icy.

Ac­tivists have long pushed for a change to a pol­icy based on in­di­vid­ual risk fac­tors such as in­tra­venous drug use or un­pro­tected sex in­stead of sin­gling out gay and bi­sex­ual men. Last De­cem­ber, the FDA changed the pol­icy from one that es­sen­tially was a life­time blood do­na­tion ban for gay and bi­sex­ual men to the cur­rent one-year de­fer­ral pol­icy.

The is­sue hit the na­tional radar again af­ter last month’s shoot­ing at the LGBT Or­lando club Pulse that left 49 dead. Blood banks were filled with peo­ple want­ing to do­nate, but due to the FDA pol­icy, gay and bi­sex­ual men weren’t al­lowed to help their own com­mu­nity.

Eight days af­ter the shoot­ing, 114 mem­bers of Congress and 24 mem­bers of the U.S. Sen­ate sent let­ters to the FDA call­ing the cur­rent pol­icy dis­crim­i­na­tory against gay and bi­sex­ual men and urg­ing them to base their guide­lines on in­di­vid­ual risk fac­tors in­stead of tar­get­ing a spe­cific set of peo­ple.

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