Public/Global Health

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

blood donation

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.”

In a Thursday briefing from President Trump’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.

Tags Blood donation restrictions on men who have sex with men Coronavirus Donald Trump Food and Drug Administration GLAAD Health United States Public Health Service
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