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Aldermen sponsor resolution calling for end to gay blood-ban
by Matt Simonette
2017-11-22

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The five members of the Chicago City Council's LGBT Caucus, as well as two other alderman, introduced a resolution on Nov. 21 calling for the end of the ban on blood donations from gay men and other men who have sex with men ( MSM ).

The ban was implemented in the '80s at the height of the AIDS crisis, and said that MSM who'd had sex with someone of the same gender since 1977 couldn't donate blood. That ban was modified sightly in 2015, allowing for donations if an MSM had not had sex in the previous year; many advocates have said that a requirement that MSM donors should not have been sexually active for a year was in essence perpetuating a de facto ban.

The Nov. 21 resolution was sponsored by Alds. Raymond Lopez ( 15th Ward ), Deb Mell ( 33rd ), Carlos Ramirez-Rosa ( 35th ), Tom Tunney ( 44th ) and James Cappleman ( 46th ), who are all members of the LGBT Caucus. Other sponsors included Alds. Scott Waguespack ( 32nd Ward ) and Harry Osterman ( 48th ).

The resolution noted that blood supplies had reached critically-low levels, and that a City Hall blood-drive was scheduled for Nov. 28 in response to the drop.

The resolution further stated that, "…The restrictions on MSM blood donations perpetuates stigma and discrimination against MSM in particular and the LGBT community in general; and whereas if the one-year deferral for MSM blood donations is lifted, an estimate from the Williams Institute suggests the donated blood supply in the United States could increase by 2 to 4% annually and potentially save the lives of hundreds of thousands of people … Be it resolved that the City Council calls upon the FDA to remove its ban on blood donations by men who have had sex with men within the last year; and be it further resolved that the City Council calls upon the FDA to base all bans on blood donations not on stigma but on an assessment of each individual's risk as measured by blood tests and recent exposure to diseases such as HIV that can be transmitted through blood."


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