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Resolution aims to support gay, bisexual men in donating blood

Feb 28, 2022, 12:44 PM | Updated: 8:33 pm
Bennett Johnson, donating blood at the ARUP blood drive in the Senate building....
Bennett Johnson, who works at the Capitol, donating blood at the ARUP blood drive in the Senate building. (Paul Nelson/KSL NewsRadio)
(Paul Nelson/KSL NewsRadio)

SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah senator says the country is in a blood shortage, but current rules are excluding certain healthy people from donating.  He organized a blood drive at the Capitol while highlighting his resolution to call on the federal government to lift those restrictions.

Officials with ARUP Blood Services say they need roughly 100 blood donors, every day, to meet their demand.  Spokesperson Debbie Jordan says they provide blood for all of the medical procedures happening at the University of Utah, which include all traumatic injuries and major surgeries.

Jordan said, “Lung transplants, heart transplants, liver transplants, kidney transplants… those never stop.”

Unfortunately, Jordan says they’re not seeing the number of donors they need.  One group that’s currently excluded from donating is sexually active gay and bisexual men.  Bridgette Freeman with ARUP says the FDA doesn’t allow men to give blood if they’ve had sexual contact with another man in the past three months, which prevents men in committed same-sex relationships from donating.

She said, “As long as they’re having sexual contact, then they’re not able to donate, even if it is a monogamous relationship.”

According to Freeman, ARUP is not allowed to step outside of FDA requirements.  Senator Derek Kitchen says the rule is remnant of the AIDS epidemic of the 80s, but he doesn’t believe there is a reason to still have it in the FDA’s regulations.

He said, “In 2022, HIV transmission is actually higher among heterosexual people, and not gay men.”

Kitchen spoke about his Senate Joint Resolution 11, which urges the federal government to change their restrictions on blood donors.  He says all blood is properly screened before it’s used, and that healthy gay men should be able to donate.

“Gay men want to participate.  Gay men want to be a part of the solution and there is a lot of gay people in the state of Utah that want to help us with our blood shortage,” Kitchen said.  “I think it’s time to lift that ban.”

 

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Resolution aims to support gay, bisexual men in donating blood