The FDA just cleared the way for hospitals to begin using blood plasma to treat patients with coronavirus. Patients who have recovered from COVID-19 and who now carry the antibody for the virus are being encouraged to donate blood to help others.
There’s just one caveat.
Sexually active gay and bisexual men need not bother donating.
The FDA says it’s upholding its 12-month restriction on blood donations from gay and bisexual men, despite a nationwide blood shortage and a letter signed by 17 Democratic senators urging the agency to revisit its discriminatory deferral policy.
“As such, it is imperative that we move away from discriminatory donor deferral policies that prohibit many healthy individuals from contributing much-needed blood and blood products,” the letter states.
GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis called for the “antiquated ban” to be “immediately lifted.”
“The FDA cannot let an outdated and discriminatory ban on blood donations from gay and bi men get in the way of potentially life-saving treatment for the country’s painful current health crisis,” she says.
“Gay and bi men who have recovered from COVID-19 and want to donate plasma, or who want to help contribute to a nationwide shortage of blood, are banned from doing so as a result of the FDA. Continuing to enforce this antiquated policy is dangerous, irresponsible, and flies in the face of recommendations from medical experts.”
A spokesperson for the FDA says the agency “is aware there has been a significant reduction in blood and plasma donations around the country” and that its “working with the blood banking and source plasma industries” to find a solution.
It’s still not lifting the restriction though. Meanwhile, the U.S. coronavirus death toll just surpassed 4,000 today.