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LGBTQ+ Advocates Urge FDA to Remove Gay and Bisexual Blood Ban

March 11th, 2022

A group of senators recently urged the FDA to lift the blood ban for gay and bisexual men amid an ongoing shortage of blood.
A group of senators recently urged the FDA to lift the blood ban for gay and bisexual men amid an ongoing shortage of blood.

A group of senators led by Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin recently requested that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) remove the blood ban on gay and bisexual men who want to donate blood.

The Contents of the Letter 

In the letter, the senators state that for the first time, the country’s primary blood donation entities, including the Red Cross, have announced a blood supply shortage as the result of continued supply chain limitations created by the COVID-19 pandemic. Consequently, the senators argue, the FDA should act quickly based on the best available science and update its outdated policies that discriminate against men who have sex with other men. The letter ultimately concludes that this lifting of the blood ban would lead to a substantial increase in the eligible donor base. 

In the letter, the Senators also argue that any policy that continues to focus unfairly on the LGBTQ+ portion of the country is discriminatory and against the law. Due to advances in blood screening as well as improvements in safety technology, a blood ban for gay as well as bisexual men is not scientifically sound, excludes an entire group of individuals, and does not meet current demands. Additionally, with the increased uptake of Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, which substantially reduces the chances that a person who is HIV-negative will end up acquiring HIV, a much large number of gay as well as bisexual men are currently aware of their HIV status and are taking the necessary actions to avoid this personal risk. 

The FDA Blood Ban

The FDA implemented a lifetime blood ban on men who have sex with other men in 1983 in the wake of the AIDS crisis. In 2015, the FDA eased this ban to permit donations from gay men who have refrained from sexual contact over the last year. Most recently, in 2020, the FDA reduced the deferral period to three months to address the blood shortage during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ongoing Blood Crisis

The letter comes shortly after the Human Rights Campaigns, the country’s biggest advocate for LGBTQ+ individuals, similarly appealed to the FDA regarding their regulations.

The country is currently facing a blood shortage, which is a crisis that the Human Rights Campaign argues can be addressed by modernizing the Food and Drug Administration’s discriminatory policy that prohibits men who engage in sexual intercourse with men from donating blood. The Human Rights Campaign argues that this policy is outdated and does not reflect the current state of science and continues to stigmatize LGBTQ+ individuals who live in the United States.

The Goal of the Universal Life Church’s Blog

The last decade saw several advancements as well as setbacks in the field of LGBTQ+ rights. It remains uncertain how LGBTQ+ rights will progress in this country over the next decade. Each week, however, various cases test the boundary of these rights. The Universal Life Church’s blog focuses on documenting these cases in a way that simplifies even the most challenging cases and which objectively examines both sides to each argument. 

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