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Hirono Applauds FDA Change to Discriminatory Blood Donation Policies

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI) released the following statement applauding the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) decision to update their discriminatory blood donor deferral policies for men who have sex with men (MSM):

“For too long, gay and bisexual men have been unjustly banned from donating blood, even during a nationwide blood supply shortage,” said Senator Hirono. “I applaud the FDA for revising this outdated, discriminatory and medically unnecessary policy. This change is long overdue and will help save lives, while also taking an important step toward LGBTQ+ equality.”

In 2020, Senator Hirono joined her Senate colleagues in a letter to the FDA, expressing concerns with the agency’s discriminatory blood donation deferral policy in the midst of a nationwide shortage of donated blood and blood products spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic. FDA responded by taking an encouraging step in the right direction, shortening the deferral period for MSM from 12 months down to three months in March of 2020.

In January 2022, following the American Red Cross’ declaration of the first-ever national blood shortage, Senator Hirono joined her colleagues in formally calling on the FDA to act on the most up-to-date science and update its discriminatory policy. The broad consensus among the medical community indicates that the current scientific evidence does not support discriminatory restrictions, and that a policy focused on individual risk assessment rather than an effective ban on gay and bisexual men would be far more appropriate.