Last week, Surgeon General Jerome Adams called on Americans to donate blood after the Red Cross was forced to cancel nearly 3,000 blood drives amid the global coronavirus pandemic. The cancellations resulted in 86,000 fewer donations, which could create a massive shortage at a time when hospitals and health clinics are dealing with an influx of patients who are being treated for COVID-19.
After hearing Adams' request, national LGBTQ+ nonprofit GLAAD created a petition urging to the Food and Drug Administration to repeal an "antiquated" and "discriminatory" rule that bans men who have had sex with other men in the past 12 months from donating blood.
"Holding on to an antiquated, discriminatory ban during these uncertain times is absurd. The FDA needs to put science above stigma," the organization wrote. "Gay men, bisexual men, and men who have sex with men want to give blood and should be able to contribute to help their fellow Americans."
The rule was first instituted in 1983 during the HIV/AIDs crisis and permanently banned gay men from giving blood. The rule was amended in 2015 to allow gay men to donate, as long as they had not had sex with another man during the previous 12 months.
"This antiquated ban is not only discriminatory, but has been debunked by leading medical organizations for years. The American Public Health Association has argued that the current ban 'is not based in science but appears to be modeled after other countries' choices and fears,'" the petition says.
GLAAD estimates that if the ban was lifted, an additional 360,000 men would be able to donate blood, which could help save over one million lives.
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