U.S. relaxes rules on gay and bi men donating blood amid coronavirus pandemic

The deferral period will no longer be a year.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in America has brought down the deferral period for gay and bisexual men donating blood due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The FDA made the move after pressure from organisations like GLAAD, among others.

Polices against gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (MSM) donating blood in America date back to 1983 due to the AIDS crisis. MSM were deemed to be a high-risk group who could contract the disease and were subsequently permanently banned from donating blood.

The deferral period was introduced in 2015 under the Obama administration, and MSM had to be celibate for a year before they were allowed to donate blood. There have been calls for years to scrap the current rules due to them not reflecting current science.

Although these calls haven’t been fully met, the deferral period has now been brought down to three months. In response to the news, GLAAD tweeted: “Victory!

“After weeks of pressure from GLAAD and others [the FDA] is lowering the deferral period on men who have sex with men from 12 months to 3 months.”

But they added this wasn’t the end, saying: “This victory, however, remains imperfect. We’ll keep pushing for the ban to be lifted entirely.”

Image by gagnonm1993 from Pixabay

Buzzfeed also reports that it’s unclear as to how the updated policy will affect trans people. They say that due to “incoherent” rules from the FDA over trans people, they currently face a blanket ban.

Alongside a petition from GLAAD, which amassed over 20,000 signatures, congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Carolyn Maloney sent as letter to the FDA, reading: “We urge you to immediately revise the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommendation that blood donation centers turn away men who have sex with men (MSM) who have been sexually active in the past 12 months.

“This antiquated policy is not based on current science, stigmatizes the LGBTQIA+ community, and undermines crucial efforts to increase the nation’s blood supply as the United States grapples with the coronavirus crisis.”

Other politicians to call for the ban to be lifted were Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar and Bernie Sanders, who could be the Democrat Party’s candidate to take on Donald Tr*mp in the upcoming election.

In a statement, the president and CEO of GLAAD, Sarah Kate Ellis, said: “LGBTQ Americans can hold their heads up today and know that our voices will always triumph over discrimination.”

Scott Weiner, a Democratic Senator in California, said the three-month deferral period was “still awful.” He added: “The celibacy requirement still irrationally discriminates against gay and bisexual men by placing a celibacy requirement on them without placing that same requirement on sexually active straight people.”

Related: UNILAD exhibits blood on streets of London after hosting ‘illegal’ blood bank

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