LGBTQ advocates are calling on the U.S. government to allow gay and bisexual men to give lifesaving blood without restriction to address donation shortages amid the global outbreak of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, NBC News reports.
Last week, the nationwide nonprofit GLAAD launched a petition claiming the current policy set in place by the Food and Drug Administration, which mandates that men who have sex with men abstain from sexual contact for 12 months prior to donation, is “antiquated” and “absurd.”
“The FDA needs to put science above stigma,” Sarah Kate Ellis, CEO and president of GLAAD, said in a statement. “Gay and bisexual men … want to give blood and should be able to contribute to help their fellow Americans.”
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The petition was released after Surgeon General Jerome Adams called upon Americans to give blood following reports from the Red Cross that 2,700 blood drives had been canceled over the past month after the coronavirus began spreading across the United States. As of March 16, those cancellations had resulted in 86,000 fewer donations, potentially decimating the U.S. blood supply.