A New House Bill Calls For Ending The Blood Donation Ban

A group of friends being recorded as they donate blood. / Screenshot via YouTube @NHS Give Blood

Two members of the U.S. Congress have started the first step in potentially ending the ban on gay/bi men donating blood.

According to the South Florida Gay News, Representative Val Demings from Florida’s 10th district and Representative Mike Quigley of Illinois’s 5th district have introduced a new bill, titled the ”Science in Blood Donation Act.” The bill calls on the Food & Drug Administration to revise their outdated blood donation policy. The bill was sent to the U.S. Energy and Commerce Committee for consideration and does not have a companion measure within the Senate.

Quigley’s office said in a statement that the bill would “require the FDA to update their Guidance on Reducing the Risk of Human Immunodeficiency Virus Transmission (HIV) by Blood and Blood Products based on an assessment of current testing accuracy and individual risk-based analysis” and “revise the donor questionnaire based on an individual risk assessment of sexual behaviors upon which all donors are evaluated equally, without regard to sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Currently, FDA policy states that men who have sex with other men must wait over three-months since their last sexual encounter to donate. This works along with the time span that it takes for most standard HIV tests to notice a transmission. Though, there are now many tests that can tell as soon as one month past the potential transmission.

This policy is a leftover response to the HIV pandemic. In 1983, the FDA prohibited gay men from donating blood at all and have since lowered the ban time to the current three months. Thus, this ban is built upon “long-standing discrimination against LGBTQ+ blood donors,” according to Demings at the release of her bill.

In his statement, Quigley, who serves as the vice chair of the House LGBT Caucus, said that the policy, compared to blood policies form other countries, is “unacceptable.”

“I’ve been proud to lead on this issue in Congress and am equally proud to introduce this bill with my good friend Rep. Val Demings,” Quigley said. “Over the course of many years, we have made significant progress in rolling back an indefinite ban on blood donations from MSM, to a 12 month deferral to the current 3 month deferral. This is still not enough. Our work will not be complete until FDA approves a non-discriminatory, science-based policy that properly addresses individual risk assessment, as we’ve seen countries across the world adopt. An arbitrary blanket ban, especially during a crisis, is simply unacceptable. This past year, awareness on this issue has continued to grow and this bill marks yet another important step in Congress’s fight for the full and equal treatment of all Americans.”

Photo by Creators Collective on Unsplash

As for Demings, she doubled-down on the stance that the policy is based on “prejudice, not science.”

“Every day, across the United States, donated blood marks the difference between life and death. There is no substitute. Yet our country turns away thousands of healthy and willing blood donors based solely on their gender identity and sexual orientation,” Demings said. “This policy is based on fear, sigma, and prejudice, not science. Expanding the donor pool by hundreds of thousands of healthy Americans would save lives every day in emergency rooms and hospitals around the country. Blood is never at higher demand than in an emergency. Orlando knows the pain of mass shootings, and discriminatory sexual orientation guidelines denied victims’ friends and families the opportunity to donate blood afterward. It’s time to move away from these archaic rules and ideologies. When we know better, we should do better. By basing our medicine on science, we can maximize our donor pool while keeping our blood supply safe.”


Source: South Florida Gay News, On Top Magazine, Orlando Weekly,

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