A number of U.S. Senators are calling on the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to eliminate restrictions on blood donations from gay, pan, and bisexual men.
Currently, the HHS requires that any man who has sex with other men to remain celibate for 90 days before donating blood, a practice which rights groups say is discriminatory and antiquated, given the advances made in both HIV/AIDS preventative measures and blood screening.
In the letter, the signatories, including out Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-MN), call for an end to this “discriminatory” practice, citing both the advances made in medical science since the HIV/AIDS crisis, and the urgent need for blood donations.
“For the first time, the nation’s leading blood donation organizations, including the Red Cross, have declared a national blood supply crisis during the continued impact of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the letter states. “We urge the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to quickly act on the best available science and update its outdated and discriminatory blood donor deferral policies for men who have sex with men (MSM), a long overdue step that would dramatically increase the eligible donor base.”
The signatories go on to state that 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 at the moment.”
They further add that countries around the world “have led on this issue by scrapping their discriminatory blood donation policies,” including Israel and Canada. Earlier this week, France and Greece became the latest countries to lift their restrictions on MSM blood donations.
In addition to Baldwin, the letter’s signatories include Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Amy Klobaucher (D-MN), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and 15 other Senate Democrats.