blood drive

Sen. Wiener to Hold SF Blood Drive as FDA Relaxes ‘Discriminatory’ Requirements

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NBC Bay Area

State Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, will hold a blood drive on Tuesday, asking gay and bisexual men to recruit eligible donors amid a nationwide shortage of donations as a result of the novel coronavirus.

Wiener's blood drive comes as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced Thursday it would ease blood donation requirements for gay and bisexual men, now requiring three months of celibacy instead of one year. Despite the relaxed requirements, Wiener said the policy remains discriminatory.

"While a three-month celibacy requirement is less awful than a one year celibacy requirement, it is still awful," Wiener said in a statement.

"The celibacy requirement still excludes from blood donation a huge number of healthy HIV-negative gay and bisexual men. The celibacy requirement still irrationally discriminates against gay and bisexual men by placing a celibacy requirement on them without placing that same requirement on sexually active straight people," he said. "The celibacy requirement continues to ignore the fact that modern HIV testing technology is so accurate and powerful that it will detect any HIV infection that occurred 10-14 days or longer before the donation.

"When it comes to HIV, the FDA is stuck in the 1980s, and it is time for the FDA to arrive in the year 2020 and base its decisions on 2020 scientific knowledge," he said.

Wiener has partnered with the American Red Cross for the drive, called #GiveForAGay, and they're asking gay and bisexual men to find someone eligible to donate to give blood on their behalf. Wiener said Mayor London Breed has agreed to donate blood on his behalf.

The blood drive will be held at Zellerbach Rehearsal Hall at 300 Franklin St. in San Francisco on Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Slots are by appointment only, so those interested in donating can visit www.redcrossblood.org and enter the sponsor code "senatorwiener."

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