Pappas, Quigley, and Lee Lead Call for Blood Donation Eligibility Reform for LGBTQ Americans

February 27, 2020
Press Release

Congressman Chris Pappas (NH-01), who serves as a co-chair of the Congressional Equality Caucus, Congressman Mike Quigley (IL-05), and Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13) sent a letter with 30 of their colleagues calling on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to reassess an outdated and discriminatory policy that blocks members of the LGBTQ community from donating blood.

“We should no longer allow outdated, discriminatory bans on blood donation to remain in place that stigmatize members of the LGBTQ community,” said Congressman Chris Pappas. “The FDA needs to urgently reexamine these guidelines and implement new policies, consistent with modern science and research, that will permit willing and healthy Americans to donate blood, regardless of sexual orientation.” 

“The United States is currently in the midst of a nationwide blood shortage and yet the FDA continues to maintain biased, homophobic regulations that no longer have any basis in scientific reality,” said Congressman Quigley. “The FDA must revise their guidelines to end the outdated practice of discriminating against healthy, willing gay and bisexual men. I will continue this fight until the policy is inclusive and scientifically sound.”

In 2015, the FDA ‘loosened’ its long-standing lifetime ban on blood donations by men who have sex with men (MSM) to allow those who have abstained from sex for a year to give blood. However, this policy change did not go far enough, failing to take into account significant advances in the field of HIV testing or the robust scientific evidence supporting shorter deferral times. 

Furthermore, this outdated policy stigmatizes members of the LGBTQ community by perpetuating stereotypes that they inherently put others at risk. There are currently no restrictions placed on the donations of heterosexual men, even if they engage in high risk sexual behaviors. 

Other nations, including Canada, France, and Britain have already reduced donor deferral times for MSM to three or four months. Many of these countries have also announced that they are working towards implementing a risk-based approach rather than a population-based approach. 

You can read the full text of the letter HERE.