WACO, TX — LGBTQ+ members of Baylor's Gamma Alpha Upsilon are feeling discriminated against due to the Food and Drug Administration's policy of who is eligible to donate blood.
According to the FDA, a person, male or female, who, in the last three months, has had sex with a man that has had sex with another man is not allowed to donate blood.
"A lot of us really want to help our communities, and preventing us from helping the society by giving blood is really antiquated. Preventing someone from donating blood just because of their sexual orientation is, in my opinion, is homophobic, and it's definitely not necessary in today's society. That essentially bans a large portion of the LGBTQ+ community at large from donating blood in this time of need," said Jake Picker, vice president of Gamma Alpha Upsilon
The FDA's rule stems back to the time of the HIV epidemic, where gay men were prohibited from donating blood entirely. That ban was reduced to one year of abstinence, and then to three months due to the high need of donations during the coronavirus pandemic.
"Because the number one priority is the safety of the transfusion recipients," said Dr. Laurie Sutor, vice president of medical and technical services with Carter BloodCare.
Dr. Sutor says modern testing still isn't perfect, and that the combination of the three-month rule along with testing is the safest option for their patients.
According to the CDC, gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men are the group most affected by HIV in the U.S.
"We have great tests now for our blood supply that have made it so that we feel comfortable in these changes to the screening process, and hopefully that will continue to improve in the future," Dr. Sutor said.
Members of Gamma Alpha Upsilon hope the FDA will consider focusing more on individuals of all genders that are practicing risky sexual behaviors instead of a person's sexual orientation.