For the first time since 1983, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is considering amending its blanket ban on blood donations from men who have sex with men (MSM). The proposed new policy would only permit donations from men who have abstained from sex with men for at least twelve months. The FDA says the waiting period is needed because “compelling scientific evidence is not available at this time to support a change to a deferral period less than one year while still ensuring the safety of the blood supply.”
Though we applaud the incremental progress this represents, we find the FDA’s rationale highly problematic. Should the change take effect, the FDA would continue to base its MSM selection and screening policy on outdated theories and centuries-old stigma rather than evidence-based criteria. For example, the viral life cycle of HIV is not linked to behavior. Based on the FDA stance, it would follow that all persons engaging in penetrative sexual acts should be subjected to this year long abstinence period. Current laws and regulations mandate all blood donations be screened for a range of potential threats, most of which are no more common among MSM than other groups. Therefore, we believe the system will remain safe with no ban on MSM donations.
Here are actions you can take to help end the ban:
- Write the FDA’s Advisory Committee on Blood and Tissue Safety and Availability at [email protected] and tell them that the proposal is inadequate and unscientific and that the ban should be completely overturned.
- Sign up for action alerts from the National Gay Blood Drive.https://www.gayblooddrive.com
- Sign the Global Justice Institute’s Petition at https://bit.ly/1BP6IwY
- Read and familiarize yourself with the details of the FDA’s current policyhttps://1.usa.gov/1fr2gEI
For more information, contact [email protected]
This action alert was prepared as a collaboration between MCC’s HIV/AIDS Advisory Council (Dr. David Williams, M.D., M.P.H., Chair) and the Public Policy Team of Metropolitan Community Churches and the Global Justice Institute (Rev. Elder Pat Bumgardner, Chair).