Saturday, January 29, 2022

FDA forced to ease blood donation restrictions for gays due to blood shortage

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is facing mounting pressure to lift tight restrictions on gay and bisexual blood donations amid a severe shortage of blood in blood banks.

The demands from lawmakers and LGBTQ+ groups come days after the Red Cross announced it was facing “the biggest blood shortage in more than a decade,” forcing hospitals to delay critical blood transfusions for patients. American Blood Centers and AABB, two other major blood donors, have also sounded the alarm.

These groups urge anyone who can donate blood, but the FDA has long made it unrealistic for men who have sex with other men to do so. Currently, the agency only allows them to donate blood three months after their last sexual encounter, which was reduced at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic from a one-year delay.

“As the medical community continues to push for Americans to donate blood, there continues to be discriminatory and unnecessary FDA policies that prevent healthy gay and bisexual people, as well as other LGBTQ people, from doing so, many of whom are willing and willing to donate blood during this health crisis,” GLAAD chief communications officer Rich Ferraro told HuffPost on Friday.

“By relying on stigma rather than science, the FDA is harming not only members of the LGBT community, but all Americans.”

— GLAAD Communications Director Rich Ferraro

The FDA first began restricting such blood donations in 1983, at the start of the HIV/AIDS crisis, when little was known about the disease other than that it was prevalent among gay men. Maintaining that ban today is wrong and impractical, advocates say, especially since all blood donors, regardless of the donor’s sexual orientation, are screened for healthy samples.

“By relying on stigma rather than science, the FDA is harming not only members of the LGBTQ community, but all Americans,” Ferraro said.

On Thursday, 22 U.S. senators backed the demand in light of a shortage of blood, which the Red Cross said had dwindled from the usual five-day supply of blood to less than a day’s supply.

“While no single solution can completely solve these problems, the FDA can take a simple and evidence-based step to dramatically increase the donor base and help manage this crisis,” they wrote to the FDA and the Department of Health and Human. Services.

“Given advances in blood screening and safety technology, a time-based policy for gay and bisexual men is not scientifically sound, continues to effectively exclude an entire group of people, and does not meet the pressing demands of the moment,” the letter said. .

The Human Rights Campaign and prominent medical experts also spoke out this week in support of lifting the FDA ban.

A 2014 study by the Williams Institute at UCLA found that lifting the ban could increase total annual blood supply by 2-4% per year.

This may affect the current deficit. The Red Cross reports that throughout the pandemic, the number of people donating blood has fallen by 10%, and it has worsened during spikes associated with delta and omicron options. He supports lifting the ban.

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