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FDA to Orlando Blood Donors: ‘No One Who Needs Blood Is Doing Without It’

FDA blood donation
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The agency regulating the nation’s blood supply defended the 12-month celibacy requirement for gay and bisexual male donors in the wake of the Orlando shooting that injured 53 people.

The Food and Drug Administration is assuring anxious blood donors--many of whom turned out by the thousands--that the 53 people wounded in the Orlando shooting this weekend will receive the blood they need.

"No one who needs blood is doing without it," an FDA spokeswoman told Out. "At this time there is an adequate supply of blood to meet the need, and the scientific evidence is not available to support an alternative to the current deferral policy."

The deferral policy she mentions is the current restriction on blood donations from gay and bisexual men, who can only donate if they haven't had sex in the past 12 months. This deferral policy replaced the outright ban on donations that was still in practice in 2015, started during the AIDS crisis in the 1980s.

"Although the current generation of HIV testing that is used to screen the blood supply is highly accurate, it is not perfect," the spokeswoman said. The administration is considering lifting the deferral period--"over the next few years."

"This process must be data-driven," she said, "so the time frame for future changes is not something we can predict."

The deferral came under renewed scrutiny after queer men realized that they might not be able to donate in the wake of the shooting at gay nightclub Pulse in Orlando. Several gay and bisexual men took to social media to plead with straight friends to donate in their place.

"We at the FDA send our deepest sympathy to all of the relatives and friends of those individuals killed or injured in the tragic occurrence in Orlando," the FDA spokeswoman said.

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