"Blood Equality," a panel discussion by experts and advocates proposing changes to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) policy on blood donations from gay and bisexual men, takes place at UCLA Hammer Museum on Tuesday, Nov. 22, 7:30 p.m. Co-presented by the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law, "Blood Equality" was organized by artist Jordan Eagles, who has been addressing the issue through his "Blood Mirror" project and is a founding collaborator on the national Blood Equality Campaign.
The FDA, in an early response to the AIDS crisis, in 1983 implemented a lifetime ban on blood donations from gay and bisexual men. More than 30 years later, the FDA proposed an updated policy that would allow gay and bisexual men to donate blood, but only if they are celibate for a full year. There is no celibacy requirement for heterosexuals, regardless of their risk for contracting HIV. A Williams Institute study found that lifting the ban completely could save up to a million lives annually. In July 2016, after the Orlando massacre in which gay and bisexual men were turned away from donating blood; and after much anger from the LGBTQ community over the FDA revised one-year celibacy policy, the FDA has issued a new public comment period, which ends on Nov. 25.
The program will be moderated by Slate.com writer Mark Joseph Stern, who has been covering the blood ban since 2012. Panelists include:
- Brad Sears, executive director of the Williams Institute, a think tank on sexual orientation and gender identity law and public policy, dedicated to conducting rigorous, independent research with real-world relevance
- Dr. Jeffrey Klausner, professor of medicine and public health in the UCLA Division of Infectious Diseases and Department of Epidemiology
- Kelsey Louie, CEO of Gay Men’s Health Crisis, the world’s first organization for HIV/AIDS prevention, care and advocacy, which has been leading the national fight on this issue
- Jim Halloran, president of TwitterOpen, which in November 2015 cancelled its corporate blood drives in protest of the policy
Admission to the Hammer Museum and to the event, which will be live-streamed, is free. Join the conversation on Twitter and send your questions for the panelists using hashtag #AskBloodEquality. Find more information at this website.