Andy Cohen, a coronavirus survivor, launches scathing attack on ‘antiquated’ blood donation ban stopping him from saving lives
Andy Cohen has launched a blistering attack on an “antiquated” rule which prevents him from giving blood as a sexually active gay man.
Up until April 2, gay and bisexual men in the United States had to abstain from sex for a 12-month period in order to be eligible to donate blood.
Earlier this month, the food and drug administration (FDA) announced that it was amending that rule to three months in an effort to meet blood demands during the coronavirus pandemic.
However, activists have pointed out that the change does not go far enough – and gay television host Andy Cohen is the latest to do so.
Cohen launched a scathing attack on the FDA’s new rules on his show, Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen, on April 23.
Andy Cohen wanted to help others after he recovered from coronavirus – but he was turned away.
“After recovering from coronavirus I wanted to see if there was something I could do to help people who were infected,” Cohen said, visibly incensed.
“I signed up for a programme for COVID-19 survivors where you could donate plasma, which is rich in antibodies, to those still battling the virus.
“I was told that due to antiquated and discriminatory guidelines by the FDA to prevent HIV, I am ineligible to donate blood because I’m a gay man.”
My blood could save a life but instead it’s over here boiling.
He continued: “Even the new relaxed rules require gay men to abstain from sex for three months, whether they’re in a monogamous relationship or not, before giving blood, though no such blanket restrictions exist for people of other sexual orientations.”
Cohen said coronavirus is “ravaging our planet” and noted that the FDA is calling on survivors to donate plasma.
“All donated blood is screened for HIV, and a rapid HIV test can be done in 20 minutes or less. So why the three month rule?
“Why are members from my community being excluded from helping out when so many people are sick and dying?” he asked.
“Maybe because we’re valuing stigma over science, I don’t know. My blood could save a life but instead it’s over here boiling.
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“This pandemic has forced us to adapt in many ways. We’re quarantining, we’re social distancing, we’re wearing masks. Why can’t we adapt when it comes to this rule?
“It’s bad enough that quarantine has us wondering what day it is, I’m sitting here wondering what year it is. We need to think about this and do better.”
500 experts slammed the ‘unscientific’ new blood donation rule in an open letter.
Gay and bisexual men have been facing blood donation bans across the world since the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s, which ravaged the queer community.
Over the years, many countries have changed their lifetime bans to deferral periods, meaning gay and bisexual men must practice celibacy in order to be eligible donors.
The United States’ new blood donation policy for gay and bisexual men has been met with fierce opposition. Last week, more than 500 infectious disease and HIV experts slammed the “scientifically outdated ban” in an open letter to the FDA.
“While the FDA’s recent decision to shorten the prohibition window to three months is a step in the right direction, it does not go far enough in reversing the unscientific ban,” the letter said.