Blood drive calls for gay and bisexual men to be banned from donating

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SALT LAKE CITY — Sen. Derek Kitchen held a blood drive at the Utah State Capitol, but he was unable to donate himself.

“Unfortunately, as a gay man, I can’t donate blood,” he told FOX 13 News on Monday. “But I feel like this is an important opportunity for us to talk about lifting the ban, but also allowing lawmakers to donate blood.”

Senator Kitchen, D-Salt Lake City, has tabled a resolution in the Utah State Senate calling on the Food and Drug Administration to end the ban on gay and bisexual men donating blood.

“The ban was instituted in the 1980s with the AIDS crisis and it has changed over time,” he said, noting that currently FDA policy is that gay and bisexual men must abstain from sexual contact for at least three months.

“This is a policy rooted in stigma and fear of gay people,” said Senator Kitchen.

Utah is facing a blood shortage like the rest of the nation and gay people are ready to step in and help, the senator said. He organized a blood drive encouraging fellow lawmakers to donate. On Monday, a number of Capitol Hill staffers and lawmakers stopped by to donate.

“Obviously we have a blood shortage, a refugee crisis, we’re coming out of COVID-19, it’s putting tremendous pressure on our healthcare system. It’s time for Utahns to step up and donate blood” said Sen. Kitchen, urging all Utahns who can donate.

ARUP, which collected the blood donations, said the nationwide blood shortage has affected Utah. The company is politically neutral on the senator’s resolution, but appreciates his efforts to organize a blood drive on Capitol Hill.

“There are all kinds of things we can do as Utahns to make sure the blood supply is there and the inventory is high, which promotes a blood drive, schedule one at work” , said Deb Jordan, spokesperson for ARUP.

Senator Kathleen Riebe, D-Cottonwood Heights, came forward to donate. She told FOX 13 News that she thinks the policy should be repealed.

“It’s completely outdated and I think the FDA is reluctant,” she said. “So if we get some states to come on board and say they’re ready to change those policies, I think they’ll buy in.”

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