Andy Cohen Says He Can’t Donate Plasma to Coronavirus Studies Because of Rules Against Gay Men
During an emotional final segment of Watch What Happens Live Thursday, Andy Cohen said he was blocked from donating his blood to a coronavirus study because he is a gay man.
Health officials have urged survivors of coronavirus to donate plasma — a component of blood that is rich in antibodies — to help fight the illness, but when Cohen signed up for a study to donate he was told he is ineligible.
“I was told that due to antiquated and discriminatory guidelines by the FDA to prevent HIV, I am ineligible to donate blood because I am a gay man,” he shared. “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.”
Under previous guidelines, which were set in 2015, the FDA recommended that gay and bisexual men wait for 12 months before making a donation.
Prior to 2015, sexually active gay and bisexual men were banned for life from making donations, a policy that had been in place since 1983, when there was no way to test donations for HIV, according to The New York Times. Sexually active women and straight men have no waiting period.
According to a 2014 study by the Williams Institute while the 12-month deferral period was still in place, an additional 360,000 men would likely have donated blood had it been lifted, which “could be used to help save the lives of more than a million people.”
The reality host, 51, tested positive for coronavirus on March 20 but has since recovered from the contagious respiratory illness.
Cohen said that “no such restrictions” on donating plasma exist for other sexual orientations, noting that all blood is screened for HIV and rapid HIV tests can be completed in 20 minutes or less.
“So why the three month rule?” he asked. “Why are members of my community being excluded from helping out when so many people are sick and dying?”
He continued, “Maybe because we’re valuing stigma over science.”
Cohen also urged that “we need to think about this and do better,” expressing his disappointment that the rule has yet to be changed in a time when the whole world is adapting to a new normal.
“My blood could save a life but instead it's over here boiling,” Cohen said.
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