Petition Calls for Lifting Gay and Bi Blood Ban Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

"The FDA needs to put science above stigma."

It is time for the blood ban on men who have sex with men to be lifted, as we see a critical shortage amid the coronavirus pandemic. That’s the message a petition started by GLAAD is sending to the federal U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), calling it “antiquated.” At time of writing, it has garnered over 4,000 signatures.

Men who have had sex with another man over the past 12 months are not allowed to donate blood, which is a holdover from the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Until late 2015, gay and bisexual men were not permitted to donate blood at all, no matter how long it had been since they had abstained from same-sex sexual contact.

The petition notes the American Public Health Association has said the ban “is not based in science but appears to be modeled after other countries’ choices and fears.” It also points out that the American Red Cross has also objected, saying “blood donation eligibility should not be determined by methods that are based upon sexual orientation.”

Additionally, it highlights a 2014 estimate from the Williams Institute that some 360,000 men would likely donate blood if the ban was lifted.

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

When pushed to lift the ban last year, the FDA released a statement characterizing its decision to keep the one-year ban in place as “a behavior-based policy, not one based upon sexual orientation,” and pointed to a Q&A document available on its website regarding circumstances where the FDA recommends deferrals.

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