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  WINDY CITY TIMES

FDA loosens restrictions on gay men who donate blood
2020-04-02

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On April 2, The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said it would loosen some of the restrictions that have blocked gay men from donating blood, ABC News reported.

The FDA is changing the recommended deferral period from 12 months to three months.

The change resulted from need more than anything else. "The COVID-19 pandemic has caused unprecedented challenges to the U.S. blood supply," Peter Marks, M.D., director of the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, said in a statement.

"LGBTQ Americans can hold their heads up today and know that our voices will always triumph over discrimination," said GLAAD President/CEO Sarah Kate Ellis in a separate statement. "This is a victory for all of us who raised our collective voices against the discriminatory ban on gay and bisexual men donating blood.

"The FDA's decision to lower the deferral period on men who have sex with men from 12 months to three months is a step toward 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."

GLAAD added that the FDA's decision follows GLAAD's continued campaign for the agency to lift its ban that prevents gay and bisexual men, as well as others in the LGBTQ community, from donating blood and plasma. GLAAD launched a petition in March calling for an end to the current ban following U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams' urgent call for donations during the COVID-19 crisis. More than 20,000 people have supported the petition, and officials such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rep. Carolyn Maloney, Sen. Tammy Baldwin, Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Sen. Kamala Harris have spoken out for it.

Windy City Times also received a statement from the American Medical Association (AMA). It read, "The FDA took a step in the right direction today, reducing the blood donation deferral period for men who have sex with men (MSM) from 12 months to three. In 2015, after significant advocacy, the AMA welcomed the FDA's decision to end the lifetime ban that prohibited MSM from donating blood. The decision [on April 2]—at an urgent moment of need—continues the FDA's efforts to advance regulatory decision-making with scientific evidence.

"At the same time, we urge the FDA to take future steps to remove the categorical restrictions for blood donations by MSM so they are instead based on a person's individual risk, consistent with the latest scientific evidence, to ensure blood donation criteria is equitably applied across all people."


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