HOUSTON - There is a big effort to allow a certain population to help with the worst blood shortage our country has faced in more than a decade.
Some people feel they are being discriminated from donating blood because of an old FDA policy that singles out gay and bisexual men.
Countries like France have lifted what is known as the blood ban dating back to the 1980s. Many say the time is now to change to help the crisis at hand.
"Personally it makes me feel very disappointed in the U.S. to see that other countries are advising their guidance rules when it comes to gay men donating blood, and we are still stagnant," said Austin Ruiz, who says he isn’t able to donate blood because of the old FDA blood donation policy. "There are some of my friends that have no problem lying and saying that they have been abstinent for three months, they haven’t had any sexual encounters with men in the past three months, so they can donate, not just blood, but plasma which is also needed."
The FDA did loosen restrictions in November 2020 by shortening the deferral period for donating blood for men who have had sex with another man from 12 months to three months.
That’s not enough according to 22 House Democrats calling for the FDA to reassess their policy during this national crisis.
In a letter to the FDA, they state in part, "given advances in blood screen 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 not meet the urgent demands of the moment."
"A lot of us gay men have worked so hard to become comfortable in our identities as gay men and a lot of us feel that it is discriminatory to force us back in the closet simply to lend a hand to our common man," said Ruiz.
The FDA said they have initiated a pilot study intended to investigate whether donor deferral can be based on individual risk assessment.
To make a blood donation, you can find a location by clicking here.