Arizona AG Mayes supports proposal to ease restrictions on LGBTQ blood donations
Apr 3, 2023, 4:15 AM
(Getty Images File Photo)
PHOENIX — Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes announced Friday her support for a Food and Drug Administration proposal on easing blood donation restrictions for gay and bisexual men.
Barriers were implemented during the early 1980s AIDS epidemic that barred gay and bisexual men completely from donating blood or plasma, according to a press release. As of 2020, such individuals cannot donate blood within three months of their most recent sexual contact.
The proposal would establish a risk-based analysis for all donors and eliminate time-based barriers.
“Discriminatory blood donation policies not only stigmatize the LGBTQ community, and gay and bisexual men in particular, but also endanger the lives of patients in need,” Mayes said in the release.
“It’s long past time to abandon outdated practices and embrace a risk-based approach that allows all eligible donors to contribute to the blood supply. If implemented, the new guidance proposed by the Biden administration will undoubtedly save lives.”
Mayes joined the attorneys general of California, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawai’i, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin in a letter of support.
Approximately 29,000 units of red blood cells are needed every day in the U.S. and one donation can save multiple lives, according to the American Red Cross.
Transfusions and blood products are needed for surgeries and treatment of sickle cell anemia and cancers.
“We applaud the FDA’s decision to replace its outdated gender- and sexuality-based screening with a risk-based framework,” the letter reads. “This approach will increase the available blood supply, addressing crucial shortage issues. It also discards the discriminatory aspects of the prior framework, while following sound science to ensure the protection of the blood supply.”
Under the new proposal, men who have sex with men will be asked if they have had new or multiple partners in the last three months. Those who answer affirmatively to either question and also report having anal sex would be barred from donating until a later date. The policy would also apply to women who have sex with gay or bisexual men.
Anyone who has ever tested positive for HIV would continue to be ineligible to donate blood. Those taking pills to prevent HIV through sexual contact would also still be barred, until three months after their last dose.
The FDA noted that the medication, known as PrEP, can delay the detection of the virus in screening tests.
The proposed policy mirrors those used in Canada and the United Kingdom.
FDA regulators are taking public comments on the proposal before beginning to finalize the guidelines.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.