HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) ― Attorney General Josh Shapiro joined 19 attorneys general advocating the FDA utilize a risk-based, gender-neutral screening model so that the country can maintain adequate blood supply to aid the medical response throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a letter, the attorneys general argue that the FDA’s guidance must replace their previous standard for blood donations, and instead, use one based on science. The letter advocates making it easier for all Americans to donate blood and plasma in response to this current health crisis.
“It is time to end this dated, discriminatory practice, especially during an emergency when all Pennsylvanians want to play a part in keeping people in their communities safe and healthy,” Shapiro said in a release. “Restrictions for blood donations should be based on fact-based risk factors, not discredited, homophobic presumptions about someone’s life. It’s time for the Trump Administration to do what is right and roll back these outdated restrictions.”
In the midst of the COVID-19 health crisis, blood drives and donations have dropped significantly.
Every day, the United States needs approximately 36,000 units of red blood cells, nearly 7,000 units of platelets, and 10,000 units of plasma to provide blood transfusions for major surgeries, treat patients and victims of trauma, and more.
As of mid-March, over 4,000 blood drives have been canceled across the country due to coronavirus concerns and closures of schools and workplaces where these drives are usually held, resulting in over 100,000 fewer blood donations.
The FDA recently issued revised guidance related to blood donation policies for the LGBTQ community. This guidance reduced the waiting period after sexual activity for gay and bisexual men from twelve months to three months.
Shapiro argues that particular move is not sufficient enough and that risk-based models are in line with laws that protect against discrimination.
Data from the UCLA School of Law Williams Institute indicates that lifting restrictions completely, as compared to a 12-month waiting period, would produce more than 2 million additional eligible blood donors, including nearly 175,000 likely blood donors, and would produce nearly 300,000 pints of additional donated blood annually.
Shapiro joined the attorneys general of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Vermont, and Virginia in sending that letter, which is available here.