Tell the FDA to lift the blood donation ban on gay and bisexual people
Earlier this month, the FDA decided to relax its rule of banning donations from gay men, bisexual men, and trans people from 12 months to 3 months. This is a good start but it’s not a win. Any ban based solely on identity is wrong.
In the mid 1980’s during the height of the AIDs crisis, the FDA instituted a lifetime ban that barred gay, bisexual men, and transgender folks from being able to donate blood. The total ban was in effect until 2015, after mounting pressure from organizers, and citing: “unprecedented challenges to the U.S. blood supply,” the FDA loosened the lifetime ban to 12 months. This meant that gay men, bisexual men, and trans folks could only donate blood if they abstained from from sex for a full year. Today’s three-month deferral continues to perpetuate discrimination.
Given the COVID-19 crisis, it is more critical than ever to rely on the generosity of each of us to meet the demands for getting life saving blood to those affected by the pandemic. Due to the virus, more than 4,000 blood drives have been canceled since mid-March. If this difficult moment is teaching us anything, it’s that now is not the time to discriminate.
We call on the FDA to move to an individualized, comprehensive and effective deferral system for all donors based on actual — not perceived — risk.