Dear Representatives and Senators:
We are writing to request that you use your position in Congress to urge the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to rescind entirely its recommendation that blood donation centers turn away members of the LGBTQ community, especially gay men and transgender people. We all celebrate the FDA’s recent decision to reduce the period that men who have sex with men (MSM) must wait to donate blood to three months. While this change represents progress, there remains a significant disparity between the treatment of LGBTQ people during blood donation screening.
The coronavirus crisis is leaving a lasting and damaging impact on the nation’s blood supply. Blood drives throughout the country have been canceled, resulting in a decrease of roughly 130,000 donations.[i] Utahns are known for our generosity and volunteerism [ii]and yet, as recently as January of this year, the Red Cross of Utah was facing a “critical blood shortage.”[iii] A multitude of federal, state, and local officials - including Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams and Dr. Brett Giroir, Assistant Secretary for Health at the Department of Health and Human Services - have publicly encouraged people to donate blood.[iv]
The FDA’s antiquated policy is not based on current science, stigmatizes the LGBTQ community, and undermines crucial efforts to increase the nation’s blood supply as the United States grapples with COVID-19.