US government ease restrictions on blood donations from GBT+ men amid COVID-19 pandemic

On Thursday, April 2, the Food and Drug Association released revised guidelines on blood donations from GBT+ men in response to COVID-19.

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The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) introduced revised policies for blood donations from GBT+ men in which the time period will be  reduced from 12 months to 3 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

In a document published on the FDA website, the new guidelines state, “As a result of this public health emergency, there is a significant shortage in the supply of blood in the United States, which early implementation of the recommendations in this guidance may help to address (even though the recommendations in this guidance are broadly applicable beyond the COVID-19 public health emergency).”

GBT+ men had previously been restricted from donating blood until after a 12 month period of abstinaing from sex. On Thursday, April 2, the FDA reduced the time period due to concerns around a drop in the country’s blood supply. 

President and CEO of LGBT+ advocacy group GLAAD, Sarah Kate Ellis, celebrated the decision as a victory for the queer community, “LGBTQ Americans can hold their heads up today and know that our voices will always triumph over discrimination. This is a victory for all of us who raised our collective voices against the discriminatory ban on gay and bisexual men donating blood.” 

However, Ellis also highlighted that there is still work to be done, “The FDA’s decision to lower the deferral period on men who have sex with men from 12 months to 3 months is a step towards being more in line with science, but remains imperfect. We will keep fighting until the deferral period is lifted and gay and bi men, and all LGBTQ people, are treated equal to others.”

The FDA have been heavily criticised for their lack of leniency towards blood donations from GBT+ men during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Concerns were raised following a gay man attempting to donate blood as part of an experimental treatment trail. His donation was rejected due to regulations put into effect in 2015. 

Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams announced the revised changes to the media alongside the FDA. He detailed the current healthcare situation, “We want and we need healthy people — all healthy people — to give blood.” 

Under the FDA’s new policy, GBT+ men as well as people with recent tattoos and piercings can donate blood within a much shorter time span. Though the revisions will be put into immediate implementation, the guidelines are non binding so some blood donation centres may still follow the restrictive model. 

© 2020 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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