Democrats are asking the FDA to reconsider the ban on gay, bisexual men donating blood amid the shortage

A group of House Democrats is calling on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to reconsider its current blood donation policy, which blocks gay and bisexual men from donating blood, as the nation grapples with a severe shortage.

Chair of the Oversight and Reform Committee Carolyn MaloneyCarolyn Maloney Infrastructure spending shouldn’t help saw down our National Forests House. Republicans demand oversight of Biden’s ‘failed’ COVID-19 response (NY), Chair of the Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Liberties Jamie Raskin
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(Md.) and Reps. Alexandria Ocasio CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezSenate Democrats introduce bill banning stock trading in Congress Maryland Democrat with mild symptoms after positive COVID-19 test Stacey Abrams shocking snub from Biden, Harris signals possible aspirations for 2024 MORE (NY) and Katie Porter (California) wrote a letter to the FDA on Thursday urging them to take “immediate action” to reconsider the “troubling policy.”

The letter, received by The Hill, said the existing recommendation “continues to stigmatize gay and bisexual men” and “undermines vital efforts to ensure an adequate and stable national blood supply.”

The Red Cross this week declared its first nationwide blood crisis in the US, warning that doctors are being forced to make “difficult decisions” about which patients receive blood transfusions over others. it said It has a “Less than a day’s supply of critical blood types.”

The letter follows a 2020 letter from Maloney and Ocasio-Cortez with the same message, after which the FDA said it would relax some of the restrictions that have prevented gay and bisexual men from donating blood.

The agency changed the blood donation grace period for men who have had sex with another man from 12 months to three months in November 2020.

Democrats write that while the FDA’s 2020 overhaul was a step in the right direction, “the three-month grace period continues to prevent gay and bisexual men from donating blood safely.”

The letter added that since the FDA last updated their blood donation recommendations, other countries have allowed individual risk-based evaluation for potential donors.

It also cited a new individual risk-based questionnaire, launched in England, Scotland and Wales last June, that facilitates safe blood donation by sexually active gay and bisexual men.

France announced Tuesday that as of March, gay and bisexual men in the country will no longer have restrictions on donating blood.

Democrats called on the FDA to change the policy so “any person who can safely donate blood in the United States has the opportunity to donate blood” amid the current shortage.

The FDA did not immediately respond to The Hill’s request for comment.

Current restrictions date back to the 1980s when gay and bisexual men and other groups were considered to be at higher risk of transmitting HIV and AIDS.

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