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Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

LGBTQ advocates and Congress members are calling on the Food and Drug Administration to revise its blood donor policy on sexually active gay and bisexual men as the country faces a blood shortage.

Why it matters: The FDA requires gay and bisexual men abstain from same-sex sexual activity for 90 days in order to donate blood.

Flashback: The FDA announced in 2020 that gay men, bisexual men and their female partners could donate blood after a three-month waiting period instead of a 12-month period.

State of play: On Tuesday, the American Red Cross declared its first-ever national blood crisis amid the surge of the Omicron variant.

  • In a letter to the FDA on Thursday, Reps Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) and Katie Porter (D-Calif.) said the FDA should reassess the policy so "every person who can safely donate blood in the United States has the opportunity to do so.” 
  • The Human Rights Campaign strongly encouraged federal authorities to "remove unnecessary restrictions on blood donation by men who have sex with men."
  • “The current policy is outdated, does not reflect the state of the science, and continues to unfairly stigmatize one segment of society," Joni Madison, Interim President of the Human Rights Campaign, said in a statement.
  • If the FDA were to lift the 90-day policy, the annual blood supply would increase by 2% to 4% annually, according to the Williams Institute, a think tank at UCLA School of Law.

Go deeper

Austin's blood bank seeks donations amid nationwide shortage

Photo: Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images

Central Texas, along with the rest of the country, is facing a blood supply shortage, and the area's blood bank, We Are Blood, is pleading for immediate donations.

Why it matters: COVID, winter storms, staffing challenges and more have disrupted the nation's blood supply. In recent weeks, blood centers across the U.S. have reported less than one day's worth of blood for certain blood types, according to the Red Cross.

How to help NW Arkansas' "scary" blood shortage

Vials of blood sit on a table as a man donates blood on Jan. 11 in San Francisco. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The U.S. is facing a "dangerously low" blood supply that could have devastating consequences, the American Red Cross warned this week.

Driving the news: COVID, winter storms and staffing challenges, among other things, have disrupted the nation's blood supply. In recent weeks, blood centers across the U.S. have reported less than one day's worth of blood for certain blood types, Axios' Shawna Chen writes.

Federal judge blocks Biden's vaccine mandate for federal workers

President Biden speaking from Eisenhower Executive Office Building on Jan. 21. Photo: Yuri Gripas/Abaca/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A federal judge in Texas blocked the Biden administration from enforcing its coronavirus vaccine mandate for federal workers on Friday, citing the outcome of last week's Supreme Court ruling that nullified the administration's vaccine-or-test requirement for large employers.

Why it matters: It's a blow to President Biden's efforts to increase the U.S.' vaccination rates, though much of the federal workforce has already been vaccinated against the virus.