Democrats Asking FDA to Revisit Gay Blood Donation Ban Amid Shortage

by Emell Adolphus

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Thursday January 13, 2022

In response to the severe blood shortage facing hospitals in the U.S., a group of House Democrats are asking the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to reassess its current blood donation policy that limits gay and bisexual men from donating blood, reported The Hill.

A letter authored by Oversight and Reform Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (N.Y.), subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Chairman Jamie Raskin (Md.) and Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.) and Katie Porter (Calif.) urged the FDA to take "immediate action" in reassessing the organization's "troubling policy."

The letter, which was obtained by The Hill, says that the existing recommendation "continues to stigmatize gay and bisexual men" and "undermine crucial efforts to ensure an adequate and stable national blood supply."

This week, the Red Cross declared its first-ever national blood crisis. The declaration came with a warning that doctors are being forced to make "difficult decisions" about which patients receive blood transfusions over others.

An FDA revision to its policy in 2020 changed the deferral period for donating blood for men who have had sex with men from 12 months to three months. However, the group of Democrats urging the FDA to revisit its policy now so taht "every person who can safely donate blood in the United States has the opportunity to do so" amid the current shortage.

An FDA spokesperson said the agency "is responsible for protecting the public health by ensuring the safety of the blood supply," The Hill reports, which "depends on the implementation of donor screening measures that are based on available scientific evidence."

The spokesperson added, "It is because of the improvements in donor screening procedures and the use of a variety of new tests in the last few years, the blood supply is safer from infectious diseases than it has been at any other time."

Do you think it's time for change? Read more about the proposed changes to the FDA's blood donating policy.