After recovering from the virus at the center of the global pandemic, Andy Cohen wanted to give back. Plasma rich with antibodies, Cohen hoped to give a donation to help others still fighting. But, after signing up to do so, he was informed that he couldn't.
“I was told that due to antiquated and discriminatory guidelines by the FDA to prevent HIV, I am ineligible to donate blood because I’m a gay man," Cohen said on the at-home version of his show Watch What Happens Live. “Even the new relaxed rules require gay men to abstain from sex for three months, whether they’re in a monogamous relationship or not, before giving blood, though no such blanket restrictions exist for people of other sexual orientations.”
It is worth noting that this ban applies to all men who have sex with men, not just those who identify as gay.
Cohen also pointed out that all donated blood is screened for HIV using the same processes, so the ban, which was recently changed from 12 months to three, has no real basis.
“Why are members from my community being excluded from helping out when so many people are sick and dying?” he said. “Maybe because we’re valuing stigma over science, I don’t know. My blood could save a life but instead, it’s over here boiling."
The spot comes as the attorneys general from 19 states as well as the District of Columbia signed a letter urging the FDA to end the ban. They point to a drop in blood donations during the pandemic of 100,000 donations.
"The discriminatory restrictions against blood donations by healthy gay and bisexual Americans have persisted for far too long; the steps you have taken acknowledge current rules are informed more strongly by bias than science," they wrote.
“This pandemic has forced us to adapt in many ways," Cohen said in his segment. "We’re quarantining, we’re social distancing, we’re wearing masks. Why can’t we adapt when it comes to this rule? It’s bad enough that quarantine has us wondering what day it is, I’m sitting here wondering what year it is. We need to think about this and do better.”
GLAAD is circulating an online petition pushing for an end to the ban. The petition has over 20,000 signatures at the organization's count.