Illinois U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley ( D-5th District ) and 32 colleagues, on July 19, sent a letter to the federal Food and Drug Administration ( FDA ) urging officials to further update decades-old rules restricting blood donations from men who have sex with men ( MSM ), according to a statement.
Quigley, who is vice chair of the House's LGBT Equality Caucus, has long pushed for such revisions. The blood-donation rules were revised slightly in 2015 to allow donations from gay and bisexual men who had not had sex with men during the prior year. Many advocates nevertheless believe that, even with the 2015 updates, current rules are discriminatory and out-of-date.
"Not only does the current MSM deferral policy deny MSM the chance to give back to [community members], it perpetuates an outdated stigma surrounding their community," said the letter, which was addressed to FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb. "The 12-month celibacy policy suggests that sexual relationships of MSM men and transgender women pose a heightened risk of HIV transmission; we now know this to be false. Yet the current policy reinforces this negative and inaccurate stereotype that we have fought so hard to eliminate. We believe that the FDA questionnaire should reflect risk-based behaviors rather than one's sexual orientation."
Among members of the Illinois House delegation who were signatories on the letter were U.S. Reps. Jan Schakowsky ( D-9th ) and Bill Foster ( D-11th ).
Quigley, also on July 19, introduced an amendment that would instruct the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute "to work with the FDA to update their antiquated and prejudiced blood donor questionnaire," said the statement.