Andy Cohen ineligible to donate blood due to 'antiquated and discriminatory' FDA guidelines

As he was wrapping up Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen Thursday night, Cohen revealed that he has been deemed ineligible by the FDA to give blood due to the fact that he’s a gay man. Testing is underway to find out if antibodies in the plasma of COVID-19 survivors can be used to treat those currently battling the disease, and Cohen, who recently recovered after being diagnosed with the disease last month, wanted to do his part to help. So he signed up for a program to give plasma, only to find out 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. “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.”

To deal with the need for blood due to the coronavirus, the FDA recently eased the guidelines requiring gay and bisexual men to abstain from sex for a year before being eligible to give blood to 90 days. The yearlong requirement was set in 2015. Before that, there was a lifetime ban.

As for the FDA guidelines being in place to prevent the transmission of HIV, Cohen claimed there’s a huge hole in that reasoning.

“All donated blood is screened for HIV, and a rapid HIV test can be done in twenty minutes or less” Cohen 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?”

Cohen also believes that since the FDA is saying there’s an urgent need for blood donations, and we as a society have already adapted so much in the fight against the coronavirus, the FDA rule should be adapted one more time. At the same time, Cohen lamented how far we as a society still have to go in 2020.

“My blood could save a life, but instead it’s over here boiling,” Cohen said. “We’re quarantining. We’re social-distancing. We’re wearing masks. Why can’t we adapt when it comes to this rule? It is bad enough that quarantine has us wondering what day it is, I’m sitting here wondering what year it is.”

Watch What Happens With Andy Cohen airs Sun-Thurs at 11 p.m. on Bravo.

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