IN THE MIX: Drawing Attention to Inequity
Blood donation rules outdated, LGBTQ+ advocates say
Several of the United States’ shortcomings have come to light due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We have seen families struggle with the loss of family members, the health care system overloaded, and economic crisis.
One of the inadequacies we are experiencing that isn’t talked about a lot is the national blood shortage. Currently, in the United States, we are running out of blood at a record pace. According to the American Red Cross, blood donations have dropped 10% since March 2020, and they are currently holding on to less than one days’ worth of critical blood types. It’s the worst blood crisis in over a decade.
to donate blood in the United States, men who are having sex with other men must abstain from sexual activity for 90 days. The restrictions have long been criticized as discriminatory by advocates and seen by many in the medical community as needlessly obstructive to the nation’s crucial blood supply.
president, Chippewa valley lgbtq+ Community center
Because of this predicament, there are renewed calls for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to ease the restrictions on sexually active gay and bisexual men who want to give blood. Presently, to donate blood in the United States, men who are having sex with other men must abstain from sexual activity for 90 days. The restrictions have long been criticized as discriminatory by advocates and seen by many in the medical community as needlessly obstructive to the nation’s crucial blood supply.
Due to changes in technology and testing, HIV-positive individuals can now get test results within 10 days. This means that the three-month waiting period is a moot point. HIV/AIDS does not discriminate amongst sexual preference, which means that all blood should be under the same restrictions when donated.
Wisconsin U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin – a gay woman – has led the charge for over 22 U.S. senators to sign a letter to the FDA urging them to release restrictions as soon as possible to provide more access to blood donations. We urge every LGBTQ+ individual and their allies to email, call, or write to their congress members and urge them to put pressure on the FDA before we see catastrophic outcomes because of the blood shortage.
Breana Stanley is president of the Chippewa Valley LGBTQ+ Community Center.