Some gay men aren't being allowed to donate COVID-19 antibodies because of decades-old regulations

Posted at 12:30 AM, Aug 06, 2020

NASHVILLE, Tenn (WTVF) — There are currently only a few treatments in helping to fight COVID-19, and one is antibodies from a Coronavirus survivor. But gay men wanting to donate are being faced with hurdles.

A donation ban started with a 1980s restriction in the height of the AIDS and HIV crisis, when the federal government created a lifetime ban on blood donations from gay men.

The rule was replaced in 2015 with a regulation that requires a year of abstinence to donate blood.

In April of this year, the FDA revised the abstinence period for gay men to donate blood or plasma from 12 months to three months in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Chris Sanders with the Tennessee Equality Project says this is a start but these guidelines are not created equal.

"My call to action would be that the Congress of the United States will hold hearings on this rule and put pressure on the FDA to make this change," said Sanders.

As the American Red Cross is pushing for more COVID-19 survivors to donate their antibodies to help sick patients, Sanders says some who are willing to help are being turned away.

"I talked to a gay man in East Nashville today who has survived COVID-19, and I asked him if the ban weren’t in place would you consider plasma donation and he said he would," said Sanders, "There are potential donors in Tennessee who would get turned away because of this unscientific, outdated FDA rule."

Gay rights advocates say if this country wants to save more lives it will review what they call outdated policies.