The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has been under increasing pressure to reduce its blood donation limits from bisexual and gay men. dire shortageBlood banks
Demands from lawmakers and LGBTQ+ groups come days after the Red Cross announced that it’s facing “its worst blood shortage in over a decade,” forcing hospitals to delay critical blood transfusions for patients. America’s Blood Centers and the AABB ― two other major blood donation collectors ― have raised the alarm as well.
These groups urge everyone to donate blood. However, the FDA long ago made it impossible for men who have had sex with another man to do so. The agency currently allows men to donate up to three months after having had sex with another man. This was taken from the one-year delay at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As the medical community continues to express urgency for Americans to donate blood, there is still a discriminatory and unnecessary FDA policy in place that hinders healthy gay and bisexual men, as well as other LGBTQ people, from doing so, many of whom are willing and wanting to donate blood during this health crisis,” GLAAD’s chief communications officer, Rich Ferraro, told HuffPost on Friday.
“By relying on stigma rather than science, the FDA is not just harming members of the LGBTQ community, but all Americans”
When the HIV/AIDS crisis began in 1983, FDA started limiting such blood donations. At that time, little information was available about the disease, other than the fact it was common among gay men. Maintaining that ban today is wrong and impractical, advocates say, especially since all blood donations, regardless of a donor’s sexual orientation, are screened to ensure healthy samples.
“By relying on stigma rather than science, the FDA is not just harming members of the LGBTQ community, but all Americans,” Ferraro said.
Tuesday’s U.S. Senate hearing was filled with 22 senators echoing that sentiment in view of the growing blood shortage. The Red Cross claims the Red Cross now has less than one-day reserves of blood, as opposed to a five-day supply.
“While no single solution can fully solve these challenges, the FDA has the ability to take a simple and science-based step to dramatically increase the donor base and help address this crisis,” they wroteTo the FDA and Department of Health and Human Services.
“Given advances in blood screening and safety technology, a time-based policy for gay and bisexual men is not scientifically sound, continues to effectively exclude an entire group of people, and does not meet the urgent demands of the moment,” the letter said.
2014. studyAccording to the Williams Institute of University of California Los Angeles, removing the ban can increase the annual total blood supply by 2 to 4 percent per annum.
This could help to reduce the shortage. Throughout the pandemic, the Red Cross says it has experienced a 10% decline in the number of people donating blood, and it’s gotten worse during the surges associated with the delta and omicron variants. The Red Cross supports the lifting of the ban.