GLAAD urges FDA to lift restrictions on blood donations from gay men

GLAAD urges FDA to lift restrictions on blood donations from gay men
© Istock

The national LGBTQ nonprofit GLAAD organized a petition urging the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to allow gay and bisexual men to donate blood amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The current rules in place for blood donations to the Red Cross dictate that men who have sex with other men abstain from sexual contact for 12 months before donating, according to NBC.

"The FDA needs to put science above stigma," Sarah Kate Ellis, CEO and president of GLAAD, said in a statement. "Gay and bisexual men … want to give blood and should be able to contribute to help their fellow Americans."

ADVERTISEMENT

In a Thursday briefing from President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump orders US troops back to active duty for coronavirus response Trump asserts power to decide info inspector general for stimulus gives Congress Fighting a virus with the wrong tools MORE's coronavirus task force, Surgeon General Jerome Adams called on "millennials and Gen Z" to make an impact, urging that "one donation can save up to three lives" and adding that "blood centers are open now and in need of your donation," the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported.

GLAAD released the petition following a call from Adams for more Americans to give blood after the Red Cross canceled 2,700 blood drives over the past month.

As of March 16, those cancellations resulted in 86,000 fewer donations, a significant detriment to the U.S. blood supply, NBC reported.

GLAAD Communications Director Mathew Lasky added that curving the blood shortage would be difficult, while many LGBTQ people remain unable to donate.

A 2014 report from UCLA School of Law’s Williams Institute estimated there would be an "extra 600,000 pints of blood available per year" if the 12-month deferral period for gay and bisexual men was lifted.

"We really see it as a holdover of a discriminatory policy from a time long past," Lasky said in an interview. "We think that it's important to push the FDA to rethink the policy around this because it's not based in current science," the report said.

The FDA responded to the pleas to change donation policies, indicating that current measures "have not changed" and that the agency would "continue to re-evaluate the situation as the outbreak progresses," according to a spokesman.

The FDA did not immediately respond to a request from The Hill for an additional comment.