Andy Cohen is calling for a change in the FDA's guidelines on blood donations amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Andy used his "Moment of Mazel" in the April 23 episode of Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen: @ Home to express his frustration over being denied the opportunity to help others suffering from coronavirus after he tested positive for the infection in March. "After recovering from coronavirus, I wanted to see if there was something I could do to help people who were infected. I signed up for a program for COVID-19 survivors where you could donate plasma, which is rich in antibodies, to those still battling the virus," he said. "I was told due to antiquated and discriminatory guidelines by the FDA to prevent HIV, I am ineligible to donate blood because I'm a gay man."
Though the FDA updated its guidelines earlier this month, recommending deferring male donors who have had sex with another man in the last three months instead of the last 12 months, as previously advised, Andy noted that "no such blanket restrictions exist for people of other sexual orientations."
He went on to further question why the measure is still in place at all, given the need for blood donations amid the pandemic and modern testing for HIV. "Here's the thing: This virus is ravaging our planet. The FDA says there is an urgent need for plasma from survivors. All donated blood is screened for HIV, and a rapid HIV test can be done in 20 minutes or less," Andy said. "So why the three-month rule? Why are members from my community being excluded from helping out when so many people are sick and dying? Maybe because we're valuing stigma over science, I don't know."
With so much upheaval already in our daily lives, Andy said that there is no better time to change these guidelines, especially when it could help others. "My blood could save a life, but instead it's over here boiling. This pandemic has forced us to adapt in many ways. We're quarantining, we're social distancing, we're wearing masks. Why can't we adapt when it comes to this rule?" he said. "It is 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."
For the latest, most accurate information on coronavirus, go to the World Health Organization (WHO) website.
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