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Health News Florida

Study Could Ease FDA Blood-Donation Restrictions For Gay Men

Photo: Stavrialena Gontzou
Stavrialena Gontzou
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One of the study's investigators says making it easier for LGBTQ people to give blood could help alleviate a nationwide shortage brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Current guidelines say that men who have sex with men must wait three months before they can donate blood.

A pilot study with three of the nation's largest blood donation organizations could help the FDA change its blood-donation restrictions for men who have sex with men.

Current FDA guidelines say that men who have sex with men must wait three months before they can donate blood. 

The study by OneBlood, the American Red Cross and Vitalant will determine whether the FDA should replace its three- month waiting period with an individual risk assessment.

OneBlood’s principal investigator Dr. Rita Reik says data won’t be available until December. But she says making it easier for LGBTQ people to give blood could help alleviate a nationwide shortage brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Well I think anytime you can safely include a whole population of people as blood donors, you’re going to definitely have a happier blood supply,” she says.

Scott Moriczdetecso, a participant in the study, says changing this policy would be a step toward normalizing gay people in American society. 

“It’s taking away a stigma that’s existed since the AIDS epidemic that no longer really is necessary," he says. "So it’s about getting rid of the laws that are no longer necessary from that time.”

Danny Garcia gave blood during the pandemic.  He says there was anger and frustration after the Pulse nightclub shooting when so many LGBTQ people could not give blood. 

“Not being able to help our brothers and sisters is what really frustrated me," Garcia says. "And then now we’re in a global pandemic, and the fact that it opened up, it just made the situation a lot better but it still feels like we’re being pushed down.”

Last year the FDA shortened the waiting period before men who have sex with men can donate blood from 12 months down to three months. 

OneBlood is still looking to enroll men  in the study.

Copyright 2021 WMFE. To see more, visit WMFE.