(TIME) — As coronavirus causes 'severe' blood shortage, senators call for ending donation restrictions on men who have sex with men.
A group of 17 senators calls for the FDA to lift a rule requiring men who have sex with men to abstain for 12 months before donating blood.
Senators from across the country, including Sens. Tammy Baldwin, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar and Cory Booker sent a letter to FDA Commissioner Stephen M. Hahn on March 26, saying the policy is “discriminatory,” “not scientifically sound” and prevents many healthy gay and bisexual men from donating blood. They note that there have been major advances in blood screening and safety technology, as well as widespread use of the HIV protection drug PrEP, have made it necessary to get rid of the deferral process.
In 2015, the FDA revised a decades-old banthat prevented men who have sex with men from donating blood, but added a requirement that the men abstain from sex for a period of 12 months before donating. However, leading medical groups have criticized the rule. The American Red Cross argued in November that eligibility should not be determined by sexual orientation, and in 2015 the American Public Health Association released recommendationsarguing that advances have made the policy “scientifically unwarranted” and that the 12-month deferral period is “not based in science but appears to be modeled after other countries’ choices and fears.”