The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) announced it had finalized their new policy that will allow gay & bisexual men to donate blood only if they haven’t had sex or sexual contact with other men in a year. Russell Roybal, National LGBTQ Task Force’s Deputy Executive Director stated, “The FDA has decided not to bring their policy in line with science & instead continues its longstanding discrimination against gay & bisexual men, people who inject drugs & people who engage in sex work. The new policy further fuels negative LGBTQ stereotypes & stigma associated with HIV & AIDS as it stops short of fully lifting an antiquated & scientifically unsound ban established in the height of the epidemic—when not enough was known about the virus. The decision is not based on science, but on fear & ignorance. Modern science has developed tremendously in the last thirty years & important safeguards are now in place that accurately screen blood for HIV. We are disappointed & angry that millions of gay & bisexual men, including myself, are still denied the opportunity to donate blood to save another person’s life.”
For years the National LGBTQ Task Force has been calling on the FDA to lift the discriminatory ban that prohibits gay & bisexual men from donating life-saving blood as well as lifting the lifetime bans on survival sex workers & people who inject drugs. Current policy also prohibits many transgender people, of which 11 percent report engaging in survival sex work, from donating blood. In June, The Task Force sent a letter to the FDA calling for a complete lift on the ban of all blood donations by gay & bisexual men.
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