Gay coronavirus survivor banned from donating life-saving plasma even though he only has sex with his husband
After recovering from coronavirus, gay American actor Yuval David tried to donate life-saving plasma but was blocked from doing so simply because he’d had sex with his husband within the last three months.
Across the world, countries have begun gingerly relaxing regulations around blood donations which have long stonewalled queer men from donating.
But after around 500 medical professionals urged the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to full eliminate constraints on blood donations by gay and bisexual men, David’s case captures the sense of sluggishness the agency has at a time when blood shortages loom.
Gay coronavirus survivor Yuval David: ‘I don’t fit the three-month abstinence policy, but why should I?’
The Boy Crush star told CBS New York on May 8 his gruelling experience with coronavirus and why he’s putting the FDA to task over its policy.
The Manhattan, New York, resident said: “I got sick from COVID-19 in mid-March.
“I was sleeping something like 20 hours a day, I was so physically exhausted.”
As his weekslong battle with the virus came to a close, he dialled the New York Blood Center to donate his blood and plasma.
He explained to staff that he has been sexually active with his husband. As a result, they told him, he could not donate blood and plasma.
“I don’t fit the three-month abstinence policy, but why should I?” he said.
Why is plasma so important in the fight against coronavirus?
Plasma, rich in antibodies, has emerged as a crucial tool for frontline workers in combating coronavirus.
Health officials believe plasma from recovered patients can be used to help treat people sickened with COVID-19.
Clinical trials have not yet consolidated the supposed benefits of convalescent plasma for coronavirus patients, but many nationwide studies are underway.
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But as donations dropped precipitously as blood drives were cancelled because of the coronavirus, the FDA revised its deferral period and cited recent studies that showed this would not compromise blood safety.
The FDA’s lifetime ban on queer men donating blood stretches back to the heights of the AIDS epidemic in 1983. Decades later and in the throes of the coronavirus pandemic, the agency shortened the deferral period to three months from one year.
Yet, countless LGBT+ activists said this was not good enough. David penned a stinging Medium post about his encountered with the FDA, questioning how men who have sex with men are supposed to “prove” they have not had sex with a man in the last three months.
He wrote: “Isn’t every blood donation tested for diseases no matter who donates? Why are we being treated differently?”
“If my blood cannot be trusted, why should I trust any blood that comes from a blood bank?” David added.