Former Barbara Lee Legislative Director, Biden State Department Advisor, and CA-30 Congressional Candidate Reflects On Changed FDA Guidelines For Blood Donors That He Worked to Enact
On Thursday, June 7, Dr. Jirair Ratevosian announced that he donated blood at his local American Red Cross, exercising his right after a new rule was recently enacted to allow gay and bisexual men to donate blood for the first time in 30 years. An openly gay public servant and former Legislative Director to Rep. Barbara Lee, Dr. Ratevosian championed to overturn discriminatory rules that were based on stigma, not science. The new rule was released by the FDA on May 11, 2023. Jirair is running to represent CA-30, the seat that Rep. Adam Schiff is vacating to run for Senate.
For over a decade, Jirair worked with HIV/AIDS advocates and policy makers to gain support for the policy shift that made the new federal rule possible. On May 26, Jirair declared his candidacy for the 30th Congressional district in California. As the son of Armenian immigrants, and a proud gay man, Jirair brings needed representation and generational change to a diverse district that celebrates having the largest Armenian community in the United States.
“Science and data should always drive policy making,” said Dr. Jirair Ratevosian, candidate for CA-30. “To now participate as a blood donor, the way millions of other Americans have for decades, meant a great deal personally. This is a monumental moment for the LGBTQ+ community and shows the power of having LGBTQ+ representation in Congress. I will always champion equitable policies that are led by science and not fear or stigma.”
“The public health community continues to come together to advance care and promote ways for all to live healthier lives,” said Phil Wilson, former CEO of Black AIDS Institute. “With the inclusion of allowing gay and bisexual men to donate blood, we step out of a draconian policy that excluded donors and instead use science and reasoning to address the urgent need for blood. Blood donations help our neediest friends and neighbors. I am proud of the work we did here in Los Angeles, and across the country to reverse this ban.”
During the pandemic last year, the American Red Cross reported a severe blood shortage. The blood supply has now stabilized, but remains vulnerable to shortages. Find a drive and schedule an appointment by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org, or calling 1-800-RED-CROSS.