California representatives ask FDA to end discriminating blood policy

February 25, 2022
In The News

California Representatives Anna Eshoo and Barbara Lee asked the FDA to end their three-month blood donation deferral for men who have sex with men (MSM) and instead implement a donation eligibility policy based on individual risk.

They were joined by representatives David Cicilline from Rhode Island and Sean Maloney from New York, in writing their proposal letter.

The representatives stated in their letter to the FDA, that the deferral rule enforces the popular stigmatisms against the LGBTQI+ community and its history with sexually transmitted diseases. The deferral period was first enforced during the 1980s in response to the HIV/AIDS outbreak.

The FDA’s deferral period prohibits MSM from donating blood for three months after their latest sexual activities.

The representatives stated that the policy uses sexual contact between two men as a proxy for unsafe sex that could potentially contaminate blood supplies. They believe this is an inaccurate conclusion based on outdated homophobic beliefs and not science.

Officials say the American Red Cross is facing one of its most severe blood shortages in over a decade. Hospitals report they are receiving less than a quarter of blood than requested due to extreme weather and the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Representatives say this deferral policy is limiting potential blood donors during a time of national donation shortages.

Despite the FDA’s policy, the American Association supports banning the policy and enforcing individual testing for donors, representatives say.

The letter was released Friday morning by Rep. Anna Eshoo.