The first, lifelong ban on MSMs was placed in 1983, when primitive HIV screening tests were emerging and the virus had not been fully characterized.
In 2015, the FDA relaxed the ban to a one-year deferral period. Then on April 3rd of 2020, again under pressure from various organizations and individuals in light of the dwindling blood supply due to COVID-19, the FDA further shortened the deferral period to 3 months. This current policy also restricts plasma donations from COVID+ patients, which may be used to treat this disease.
The reduction of the deferral period to donate blood for men who have sex with men (MSM) to 3 months is an inadequate step in the right direction. This change does not represent a win. Instead, it shows us how evidence is not sufficient to overcome decades of social bias. Given current scientific evidence, any deferral period for the MSM population is rooted in antiquated stigmas, bureaucracy, and obsolete policies from 1983. This is a plea to the FDA to lift this ban entirely and acknowledge that prejudice cannot continue to be masqueraded by false notions of “greater public safety.”
Sign our petition here.