Lawmakers Call For Easing Of Rules For Blood Donations

The Food and Drug Administration last week eased it's restrictions of blood donations from gay and bisexual men, however lawmakers in San Francisco say that's not enough, especially during a pandemic. They are now calling on the FDA to lift fully any restrictions on these donations.

The FDA now requires men who have sex with men to be celibate for three months before donating blood. Up until last week that waiting period had been a full year, but State Senator Scott Wiener of San Francisco says even the three month waiting period is too long.

“It’s discriminatory, and it undermines our mission to get people to donate blood. It’s leaving millions of people out," said Wiener, "healthy people who want to donate blood to support their community.”

He called the waiting period an effective ban, saying that it is dangerous policy during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This ban on gay and bi men also applies to giving plasma," said Wiener, "plasma of people who have recovered from COVID-19 is a potential treatment that’s being studied that could save people's lives.”

Wiener made the comments at his Give for a Gay blood drive held today, during which eligible donors give on behalf of those who cannot. San Francisco Mayor London Breed also participated in the blood drive.

“I’m really, truly honored to be here on behalf of my friend, my senator, Scott Wiener, to give on his behalf." said Breed, "and to give on behalf of the countless San Franciscans who are out and proud and want to serve in whatever capacity they can.” 

 Breed said donating blood is especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We see how truly connected we are, my safety depends on my neighbor’s safety," said Breed, "we depend on each other during this crisis to support one another and to keep each other safe.” 

Last month Senator Wiener called on the FDA to lift any waiting period for gay and bisexual men who want to donate blood, because blood supplies have fallen sharply due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The FDA did act quickly, but instead of ending the ban, it reduced the ban from a 12-month celibacy requirement to a three month celibacy requirement," said Wiener, "that is still effectively a ban.” 

San Francisco Supervisor Catherine Stefani gave on behalf of fellow Supervisor Rafael Mandelman. On top of that, she says the Board will consider action/

“I am so proud to cosponsor the resolution authored by my buddy, I call him my buddy," said Stefani of Supervisor Mandelman, "to call for the federal government to end the ban on blood donations by gay and bisexual men.” 

Blood supplies have been running low since drives nationwide have been canceled due to the pandemic. Restrictions on gay and bisexual men donating blood date back to the 80s and were imposed due to the HIV-AIDS crisis.