Gay men can’t donate blood to Orlando shooting victims–report
Blood donors are heavily needed in response to the tragic mass shooting at a gay club on Monday, but according to reports from The Huffington Post, only donations from straight individuals are welcomed.
According to a decade-old Food and Drug Administration (FDA) policy in the United States, any man who has had sex with another man in the past year is legally banned from giving blood—meaning gay and bisexual men are prohibited to help their own community in the wake of the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history, which left at least 50 dead and another 53 injured.
The FDA policy, which dates back to the 1985 AIDS epidemic, originally barred all gay and bisexual men from donating blood at all times, the report said.
However, the agency loosened its policy last year but with little practical effect; it now applies to any man who has had intercourse with another man in the past year.
Despite the recent changes, active gay men who are married or in a monogamous relationship are still most likely prohibited from donating.
Enraged netizens took to social media to express their disbelief at not being able to give blood at a time when it’s needed most:
While others from the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community used Facebook to plead with heterosexual people to go in and donate blood on behalf of those who can’t.
LGBT advocates have been pushing for a more science-based blood donor policy, the report said, since HIV testing among queer men have drastically improved since the 80’s.
In present time, some tests can now reportedly detect the virus in blood as early as nine days after HIV infection.
FDA officials, however, defended the 12-month waiting period, while openly gay and married Colorado Congressman Jared Polis, insisted its time for the policy to go.
We must overturn the morally bankrupt/dangerous ban on gay people giving blood. Absurd someone can’t even donate blood to their own husband?
— (((Jared Polis))) (@jaredpolis) June 12, 2016
Despite the nationwide ban, one local blood centre in Orlando, OneBlood, has temporarily lifted their ban on gay men donations, amidst the crisis. The group also clarified that their move remains in accordance with FDA’s guidelines and they are not ignoring federal law.
Gay and bisexual men remained sidelined from giving blood in other facilities, but other members of the Orlando community lined up on multiple blood centres since early Monday. Khristian Ibarrola
— Caitlin Cade (@caitlinCADE) June 12, 2016
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