BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – The “Blood is Blood” movement is fighting for the right to donate blood.
The FDA currently has a policy that bans gay or bisexual men from being a donor.
“This ban has a stigmatizing effect on our community. I am A-negative. Every time I see that there’s a shortage, I think of it as a lost opportunity,” Matthew Crehan Higgins, the senior director at the Pride Center of Western New York said.
The Blood is Blood Organizer, Jordan Moll Vigrass said, “The FDA is classifying all gay and bisexuals as a risk and it needs to be based on an individual donors risk. The FDA cannot just throw a blanket over all people and say they are all risks.”
Vigrass tried to give blood in October, but he was denied. He tearfully responded, “Donating once in 56 days can help save up to 3 lives. If I can do that, that would mean a lot to me.”
The FDA says gay or bisexual men are not allowed to donate blood because they have an increased risk for HIV and other infections that can be transmitted by transfusion. However, the policy could change.
In a draft released earlier this year, the FDA announced a possible update to the policy. It would allow gay and bisexual men to donate blood, as long as they’ve abstained from sex for one year.
“We should be using all of the tools that are available to us to protect the public, but not discriminate against any one group,” Congressman Brian Higgins, (D) Buffalo said.
America’s Blood Centers and the American Red Cross released a statement saying they’re pleased with the draft and reviewing it.
If the FDA’s policy is changed next year, the blood bank industry will follow suit.