Alan Cumming stars in Saatchi & Saatchi New York’s new film raising awareness about the FDA’s blood donor policy.

New York, NY - A coalition of organizations, including GLAAD and Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC), has launched a new PSA and social media campaign starring Alan Cumming to raise awareness about the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) blood donor deferral policy for men who have sex with men.

Created by Saatchi & Saatchi NY and Bullitt, #CelibacyChallenge urges the FDA to implement a blood donation system that screens all donors based on risk for HIV transmission, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. 

“Stereotypes have no place in saving lives,” said GLAAD President & CEO Sarah Kate Ellis. “The FDA’s proposed change still means that countless gay and bisexual men will be turned away from blood banks simply because of who they are. GLAAD is proud to stand alongside GMHC and Saatchi & Saatchi NY to shed light on this important issue.” 

To call attention to the FDA’s blood donor deferral policy, GLAAD and GMHC’s campaign illustrates how unrealistic it is to ask someone to remain celibate for a year in order to donate blood by offering “approved alternatives” to sex.  Participants are asked to share the humorous video through social media using the hashtag #CelibacyChallenge and to sign a petition calling on the FDA to modify their policy. More info about the donor issue and pro bono campaign can be found on www.CelibacyChallenge.com

 “Since the early days of the epidemic, GMHC has witnessed first-hand how fear, stigma, and discrimination have fueled the spread of HIV,” said Kelsey Louie, GMHC’s CEO. “The FDA’s ‘revised’ policy continues to fan the flames of the outdated stereotype that HIV is only a ‘gay disease.’ GHMC would like to thank Saatchi & Saatchi NY and GLAAD for joining and supporting the broad coalition of agencies that have been fighting to change U.S. blood donation policy for decades.” 

Saatchi & Saatchi NY partnered on this pro bono project with Bullitt and the campaign’s centerpiece film was shot by Bullitt filmmaker Academy Award®-winning director Ari Sandel. In 2007, Sandel won an Oscar® for his short film, “West Bank Story.” Most recently, Sandel directed the highly anticipated film The Duff for CBS films, which was released last Friday, February 20. 

“Creating work that creates positive cultural change is something we’re very passionate about,” said Jay Benjamin, Saatchi & Saatchi New York chief creative officer. “We believe at Saatchi that nothing is impossible, and that certainly holds true about lifting an outdated 30-year-old ban.” 

Todd Makurath, co-founder and CEO of Bullitt, added: “All of us at Bullitt believe very strongly in this cause, and we’re thrilled to be teaming up with these organizations and contributing Bullitt's talent for storytelling to make a difference with this issue.”

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