Attorney General William Tong
Attorney General William Tong Credit: Hugh McQuaid / CTNewsJunkie

Connecticut Attorney General William Tong announced his support on Monday for new recommendations from the Biden Administration that would ease restrictions on gay and bisexual men seeking to donate blood or plasma. 

In a press release, Tong announced he had joined a coalition of attorneys general in 21 other states who wrote last week to the Food and Drug Administration, urging regulators to approve their proposed changes to blood donation rules.

The proposal would eliminate an automatic three-month deferral on blood donations from men who have sex with men and replace it with a policy that requires the screening of all donors for Human Immunodeficiency Virus risk factors.

“This restrictive and outdated policy both stigmatizes members of the LGBTQ community and harms all who rely on an adequate supply of donated blood for life,” Tong said of the three-month deferral. “Adopting this new, science-based policy will both help increase the available blood supply at a time when we’re experiencing historic shortages and end the wrongful discrimination of LGBTQ individuals.” 

The change is expected to increase blood donations at a time when the American Red Cross has recently struggled with available supply. Last year, the organization declared a “blood crisis” after donations declined by around 10% during the pandemic, leading to its worst shortage in more than a decade. 

Restrictions on LGBTQ blood donations stem from the AIDS epidemic and have been relaxed over time. In 2020, the current three-month deferral replaced a previous one-year waiting period. At one time, the FDA prohibited gay and bisexual men from giving blood altogether. 

In their letter, the attorneys general wrote that policies had prevented blood donations from healthy Americans for too long. 

“The proposed guidance vindicates science and civil rights by reversing these outdated and discriminatory restrictions,” they wrote. “Sound science, international experience, blood supply needs, and important civil rights principals all support this change.”