Democratic senators and gay rights advocates are calling on the federal government to loosen restrictions on blood donations from gay and bisexual men, citing the recent blood shortages caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic as a catalyst for change. The Food and Drug Administration’s current recommendations restrict men who have sex with men, commonly referred to as MSM, from donating blood within 12 months of their last sexual encounter. The policy harkens back to the HIV/AIDS crisis of the 1980s, which disproportionately impacted MSM. While this policy is a more relaxed version of the previous outright ban on all MSM donations, many are hoping blood screenings and advanced technology could prompt the agency to rethink its regulations. In a letter to FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn, 17 Democratic senators urged the agency to update its 12-month deferral policy, calling it “stigmatizing” and “discriminatory.” “As such, it is imperative that we move away from discriminatory donor deferral policies that prohibit many healthy individuals from contributing much-needed blood and blood products,” the letter reads. Instead, they’re asking the FDA to base blood donation eligibility on individualized situations rather than “inaccurate stereotypes.” “We are steadfastly committed to ending this policy and encourage the FDA


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