Stigma to solution: New inclusive guidelines for blood donation
LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - New federal rules are allowing more people to donate blood at a time when the Red Cross warns of a blood shortage.
A historic change made by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Eliminating a 40-year restriction on blood donation for gay and bisexual men.
The new eligibility is based on a person’s individual risk factors, not sexual orientation.
David Olejarz is with the American Red Cross. The agency is the top blood donation organization in the country, but it is only following federal guidelines.
“Red Cross and other blood collection cannot make any changes to what that criteria is,” Olejarz said.
Sarah Warbelow, of the Human Rights Campaign, said advocacy played a role in the policy change. However, a new study into the safety of blood donations was the biggest factor. The study is called The Advanced Study where the US studied blood donations of gay and bisexual men, this prompted the change. Warbelow also added stigma associated with the AIDS epidemic influenced the dated guidelines.
“That stigma kept being perpetuated over and over again and folks were unwilling to come to the table and look at it through a true science perspective as well as a human rights and dignity perspective,” Warbelow said.
Olejarz said the Red Cross is now looking toward the future.
“We realize the previous policy caused hurt among gay and bisexual men and we see this as an opportunity moving forward to repair that relationship with the broader LGBTQ+ community,” Olejarz said.
There is a current shortage of blood in this country, and it’s encouraged that any eligible individual go and donate blood. The new guidelines, however, don’t mean that stigma and discrimination will change overnight.
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