Mike Quigley, Val Demings Introduce Bill To End Gay Blood Ban

Sat. September 12, 2020 10:06 AM by Carlos Santoscoy

rep. mike quigley in the 2017 chicago pride parade

photo credit // gopride.com
Democratic Representatives Mike Quigley of Illinois and Val Demings of Florida have introduced a bill that seeks to end the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) ban on gay and bisexual men donating blood.

The FDA in 1983 adopted a lifetime ban on blood donations from men who have sex with men in response to the AIDS crisis. In 2015, the agency relaxed the ban, allowing gay and bisexual men to donate blood after having abstained from sexual contact for 12 months.

In April, the FDA shortened the deferral period from 12 months to 3.

(Related: Andy Cohen says he's "hurt" he cannot donate blood during COVID-19 crisis.)

Quigley's office said in a statement that the proposed legislation would "require the FDA to update their Guidance on Reducing the Risk of Human Immunodeficiency Virus Transmission (HIV) by Blood and Blood Products based on an assessment of current testing accuracy and individual risk-based analysis" and "revise the donor questionnaire based on an individual risk assessment of sexual behaviors upon which all donors are evaluated equally, without regard to sexual orientation or gender identity."

Pointing to blood policies in other countries, Quigley, who serves as vice chair of the House LGBT Caucus, said that the current policy is "unacceptable."

"I've been proud to lead on this issue in Congress and am equally proud to introduce this bill with my good friend Rep. Val Demings," Quigley said. "Over the course of many years, we have made significant progress in rolling back an indefinite ban on blood donations from MSM, to a 12 month deferral to the current 3 month deferral. This is still not enough. Our work will not be complete until FDA approves a non-discriminatory, science-based policy that properly addresses individual risk assessment, as we've seen countries across the world adopt. An arbitrary blanket ban, especially during a crisis, is simply unacceptable. This past year, awareness on this issue has continued to grow and this bill marks yet another important step in Congress's fight for the full and equal treatment of all Americans."

Demings said that the current policy is based on "prejudice, not science."

"Every day, across the United States, donated blood marks the difference between life and death. There is no substitute. Yet our country turns away thousands of healthy and willing blood donors based solely on their gender identity and sexual orientation," Demings said. "This policy is based on fear, sigma, and prejudice, not science. Expanding the donor pool by hundreds of thousands of healthy Americans would save lives every day in emergency rooms and hospitals around the country. Blood is never at higher demand than in an emergency. Orlando knows the pain of mass shootings, and discriminatory sexual orientation guidelines denied victims' friends and families the opportunity to donate blood afterward. It's time to move away from these archaic rules and ideologies. When we know better, we should do better. By basing our medicine on science, we can maximize our donor pool while keeping our blood supply safe."

This article appeared at On Top Magazine and has been published here with permission.

 

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