The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced on Thursday their restriction adjustments on blood donations from gay and bisexual men. The initial restriction, which banned gay men indefinitely from donating, began in 1983 and was once considered to be a practice of lessening HIV and AIDS transmission. Yet, the restriction of LGBTQ+ individuals is simply a reflection of how little LGBTQ+ individuals are valued, medically.
The FDA introduced the 12-month wait restriction in 2015, but recently the FDA changed their policy to three months. This change comes at an interesting time as the COVID-19 pandemic affects communities worldwide. The FDA‘s decision sparks a wave of colorful criticism as conversations of discriminatory practices highlight the FDA's initial deferral period for LGBTQ+ individuals. Women to whom have had, or do have, sex with men that have had sex with men were also recommended not to donate blood or plasma.
Following the reactions of the change, the FDA’s statement is primarily based on recent studies, and as stated on Thursday, “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.”
GLAAD President and CEO, Sarah Kate Ellis released a statement on the latest changes, “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.”
Yet, the true reflection of change is how this lesser restriction will benefit the LGBT community after COVID-19. As many medical care providers struggle to obtain access to medical equipment and supplies, blood donations are also essential during this pandemic. Moving forward and the fight for equality is the objective, as thousands of LGBTQ+ people, once considered not eligible, could now be eligible to donate blood for the first time.