Gay senator rages after being banned from giving blood despite meeting new guidelines and abstaining from sex
Gay state senator Brad Hoylman has spoken out after he was rejected from giving blood, despite meeting the new official guidelines for doing so.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced in February that it would “immediately” relax rules imposed during the AIDS crisis, which banned men who have sex with men from giving blood unless they abstain from sex for a year.
In line with international standards, the new FDA rules state that queer men should be permitted to give blood if they have not had sex in the last three months.
New York state senator Brad Hoylman attacks policy ‘rooted in homophobia’.
However, as New York state senator Hoylman found out, the change in rules is not yet being consistently enacted – with the out lawmaker turned away from donating at New York Blood Center, despite meeting the requirements to do so.
Taking to Twitter, Hoylman revealed he had personally attempted to register as a donor, but was rejected because the state continues to use the outdated screening guidelines.
In a letter to the head of the New York Blood Center, Christopher Hillyer, the politician wrote: “I attempted to donate blood at the NYBC facility at 200 Park Avenue because I qualify under the new guidelines.
“I was rejected as a donor because NYBC continues to use the outdated screening guidelines of a waiting period of one year instead of three months for gay and bisexual men like me.”
Hoylman noted that gay Coronavirus survivors are also being turned away from donating plasma which could help save lives.
He said: “I urge you to update your guidelines to reflect the new FDA guidance for blood donation, which would allow more life-saving blood to be donated during this public health crisis.
“In the meantime, I’ll continue to fight for changes to the FDA’s blood donation guidance that prevents most gay and bisexual men from donating blood.
“This policy is rooted in homophobia and limits our nation’s supply of blood and plasma, which I know you agree is more crucial than ever for the research and treatment of COVID-19.”
Blood banks blame outdated paperwork and computer systems for slow change.
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According to NBC News, blood donation centers across the US are still applying the old rules – with many blaming outdated computer systems and paperwork.
Linda Goelzer, a spokesperson for Carter BloodCare in Dallas, told the outlet: “[People] were so angry with us… people were calling and saying ‘You lied to us, you’re not following the FDA,’ and it’s so unfair.
“Every blood center in the country has been advocating for these changes, but we have to go through some very rigorous protocols to make these changes so that we can still keep safety in the blood supply and in the process.
“When the FDA says the word ‘immediately’ that means something totally different in our world. It takes about three months to implement this stuff but [the FDA] is relying on us to communicate that to the public.”
Kate Fry, CEO of America’s Blood Centers, said: “The struggle is in the public perception that it’s actually blood centers who are stalling the effort, and that is just not the case at all. They are 100 percent working on it. It just takes time.”