Twenty-four United States Senators, including Republican Mark Kirk of Illinois, have written a letter to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration expressing their concern about the organization’s discriminatory blood donation policy for men who have sex with men (MSM). Currently, the FDA bans gay men from donating blood if they have had sex in the last year.
While the one-year deferral policy, which was implemented last year, was viewed by some as a step in the right direction following the previous lifetime blanket ban on donation from MSM, health experts and LGBT activists have criticized the current policy as being unnecessary and discriminatory. In recent weeks the policy was especially painful for members of the LGBT community who were turned away from blood donation centers following the tragedy in Orlando.
The letter reads: “In light of these tragic events, and given that it has been nearly 6 months since you announced the new one-year deferral policy, we respectfully request an update on your implementation efforts… We urge you to move swiftly to not only implement the new policy, but also to develop better blood deferral policies that are grounded in science, based on individual risk factors, don’t unfairly single out one group of individuals, and allow all healthy Americans to donate.” The FDA typically responds directly to letters from lawmakers – the Senators have requested a response by June 30.