New York, NY - GLAAD, the world’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) media advocacy organization, today responded to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration’s (FDA) revised recommendations on gay and bisexual men, and other LGBTQ people, from donating blood by reducing the deferral period from 12 months to 3 months.
This decision follows GLAAD’s continued campaign for the FDA to lift its ban that prevents gay and bisexual men, as well as others in the LGBTQ community, from donating blood and plasma. GLAAD launched a petition in March calling for an end to the current ban following U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams’ urgent call for donations during the COVID-19 crisis. The petition has over 20,000 signatures and elected officials including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rep. Carolyn Maloney, Sen. Tammy Baldwin, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, and Sen. Kamala Harris, among others, have spoken out.
The revised recommendations were posted on the FDA site this morning. GLAAD, and other stakeholders, also received an email from the FDA today which stated: “Based on our evaluation of the totality of the scientific evidence available, we are revising the 2015 recommendations for reducing the risk of HIV transmission by blood products including: For male donors who would have been deferred for having sex with another man; the agency is changing the recommended deferral period from 12 months to 3 months.” This change will also apply to female donors who would have been deferred for having sex with a man who had sex with another man.
The FDA also wrote: “To help address this critical need and increase the number of donations, the FDA is announcing today that based on recently completed studies and epidemiologic data, we have concluded that the current policies regarding the eligibility of certain donors can be modified without compromising the safety of the blood supply. The policy changes that we are announcing for immediate implementation are set out in three guidance documents and are expected to remain in place after the COVID-19 public health emergency ends.”
“LGBTQ Americans can hold their heads up today and know that our voices will always triumph over discrimination,” said GLAAD President and CEO, Sarah Kate Ellis. "This is a victory for all of us who raised our collective voices against the discriminatory ban on gay and bisexual men donating blood. The FDA’s decision to lower the deferral period on men who have sex with men from 12 months to 3 months is a step towards being more in line with science, but remains imperfect. We will keep fighting until the deferral period is lifted and gay and bi men, and all LGBTQ people, are treated equal to others.”