A group of U.S. senators and GLAAD are
calling on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to lift the ban
prohibiting gay and bisexual men from donating blood.
The calls come as the United States
faces a surge of new cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new
Men who have sex with men cannot donate
blood unless they abstain from sexual contact for 12 months. The FDA
relaxed the ban in 2015. The agency adopted a lifetime ban in 1983 in
response to the AIDS crisis.
GLAAD organized a petition calling on
the FDA to lift the ban.
“The FDA needs to put science above
stigma,” GLAAD CEO and President Sarah Kate Ellis said in a
statement. “Gay and bisexual men … want to give blood and should
be able to contribute to help their fellow Americans.”
The U.S. government has called on
Americans to donate blood as the crisis escalates.
In a letter dated March 26, 17 senators
asked the FDA to “swiftly update donor deferral polities in favor
of ones that are grounded in science, are based on individual risk
factors, do not unfairly single out one group of individuals, and
allow all healthy Americans to donate.”
They called the current policy
“antiquated and stigmatizing.”
“While government health officials
encourage every healthy individual to consider donating blood, the
FDA continues to enforce a discriminatory donor deferral policy that
effectively prohibits many healthy gay and bisexual men from doing
so,” the letter states.
Five former 2020 presidential hopefuls
– Senators Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, Amy Klobuchar, Kamala
Harris and Sherrod Brown, who briefly considered a run for the
Democratic presidential nomination – signed the letter, as well as
Senator Bernie Sanders, who is still in the race. Sanders has said he
would lift the blood ban if elected president.
Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin, the
only out lesbian in Congress, organized the letter with Warren and