After surviving the coronavirus, out TV host Andy Cohen is fighting against FDA guidelines restricting gay and bisexual men from donating blood plasma.
In a virtual interview with CBS This Morning on Monday (April 27), Cohen said he was “disappointed” that he couldn’t donate his blood plasma, which may have antibodies to fight the virus, simply because he was gay.
“I’ve known in the past about the fact that gay men cannot donate blood,” he said. “But I think we’re in an unusual situation right now. We’re in a way against a disease that we don’t know a lot about, and there’s an urgent need for the antibody that is in people like me who have survived coronavirus.”
While the FDA guideline doesn’t explicitly ban any gay or bisexual man from donating blood, it does prohibit any man who has had sex with another man in the last three months from donating to prevent the spread of HIV. The restriction, which used to ban men who had had sex with a man in the last year, was eased in light of the coronavirus. However, the guideline still prevents sexually active gay and bisexual men from donating.
Blood donations are desperately needed right now. According to the Red Cross, there have been 150,000 fewer blood donations in since the beginning of the pandemic due to blood drives being cancelled.
“There is an urgent need, and a special urgent need for the blood I have,” Cohen said. “I want to help. I think that the rules should be looked at again by the FDA. There have been strides in testing for HIV since these rules were enacted. You can get an HIV test in 20 minutes. They, I know, screen the blood again, a second time after you donate it to make sure there’s not HIV in the blood. So, I just think this needs another examination.”
The FDA released a statement to CBS This Morning, saying they’re working to commence a study with 2000 men who have sex with men to determine if a donor questionnaire based on individual risk assessment would be as effective as the current guidelines at reducing HIV risk.