Maloney and Ocasio-Cortez Urge FDA to Immediately Revise Policy Banning Gay and Bisexual Men from Donating Blood as Coronavirus Threatens Nation’s Supply

Apr 1, 2020
Press Release

Washington, D.C. (Apr. 1, 2020)—Today, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, the Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, and Committee Member Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, sent a letter urging the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to revise its policy of turning away blood donations from gay and bisexual men in light of the long-term impacts of the coronavirus crisis on the nation’s blood supply.


This antiquated policy is not based on current science, stigmatizes the LGBTQIA+ community, and undermines crucial efforts to increase the nation’s blood supply as the United States grapples with the coronavirus crisis,” the Members wrote.


More than 4,000 blood drives across the United States have been canceled due to coronavirus, resulting in approximately 130,000 fewer donations.  The New York Blood Center alone reportedly canceled more than 600 blood drives, resulting in approximately 25,000 lost potential donations.


The current FDA policy unnecessarily restricts blood donations.  According to one estimate, FDA’s policy could prevent up to 4.5 million people from being eligible to donate blood.  Revising the current restriction could result in as many as an estimated 615,000 additional pints of blood being donated each year.


FDA’s policy is not based on current science.  According to the American Public Health Association, the FDA’s policy “continues to prevent low-risk individuals from contributing to our blood supply” and “is not based in science but appears to be modeled after other countries’ choices and fears.”


The American Medical Association encourages transitioning towards a policy based on evidence-based risk assessments.  


“In light of the potential long-term impacts the coronavirus outbreak may have on the nation’s blood supply, we urge FDA to act swiftly in revising its policy so every person who can safely donate blood in the United States has the opportunity to do so,” the Members wrote.


The Members requested a briefing from the FDA regarding its current policy, any plans to revise this policy, and efforts to ensure adequate supply as a result of the coronavirus crisis.


Click here to read today’s letter.


116th Congress