At this point, you probably don’t need me to reiterate that hospitals are in short supply of, well, everything. Thankfully, the Food and Drug Administration made some moves on Thursday that will hopefully ease at least one of those shortages.
NBC News reports that the FDA has reduced its restrictions on gay men donating blood. Initially, gay men had to be abstinent for an entire year before they were eligible to donate blood. That restriction has now been reduced to only 90 days. This comes following a petition GLADD started to get the FDA to reduce these restrictions. This was not the only change the FDA made.
From NBC News:
Other 12-month deferral periods have also been shortened under the new guidelines, including those for people who have traveled to areas with certain endemic diseases, those who have engaged in injection drug use and people who have participated in commercial sex work.
Restrictions have also been reduced for people who’ve recently gotten tattoos or piercings, in an effort to get more people to donate blood. Many of these restrictions were made during the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic through the ‘80s and ‘90s. With more information about how long it takes for HIV antibodies to show up in the bloodstream as well as more preventive measures such as PrEP (Pre-exposure prophylaxis) being introduced in recent years, these restrictions have long been seen as outdated.
It’s good that old biases are being re-evaluated and changed. It’s just really sad that it took a pandemic for that to happen. Letting perfectly healthy gay people donate blood should not have been one of the “desperate measures” taken to help with the crisis.