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March 28, 2022

Around the nation: Massachusetts doctors ask FDA to end 'discriminatory' blood donation policy for gay and bisexual men

Daily Briefing

The Massachusetts Medical Society and the Fenway Institute asked the FDA to end its 90-day blood donor policy for gay and bisexual men, in today's bite-sized hospital and health industry news from the District of Columbia, Massachusetts, and New York.

  • District of Columbia: For the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic began, the White House will host its annual Easter Egg Roll on April 18. According to a released schedule, additional limits could be placed on the event if the conditions of the pandemic worsen. The schedule stated that the White House "will continue to closely monitor the Covid-19 situation based on recommendations from the [CDC] and other public health officials and medical experts." For the event, masks will be provided for guests who decide to wear one, and anyone "who has tested positive for Covid-19, has had any Covid-19 symptoms, or been in close contact with someone confirmed or suspected to have Covid-19 within 10 days prior to their visit may not attend." (Cameron, New York Times, 3/25)
  • Massachusetts: The Massachusetts Medical Society and the Fenway Institute on Wednesday asked FDA to end its 90-day blood donor deferral policy that bans men from donating blood if they have had sex with other men within 90 days of donation—a policy that began at the start of the HIV epidemic roughly 40 years ago. Although FDA recently shortened the required length of sexual abstinence from one year to 90 days, the policy is still "discriminatory and not based in sound science," according to the health organizations. "The physicians of the Massachusetts Medical Society and The Fenway Institute urge the [FDA] to revoke its policy on unnecessary scrutiny and subsequent exclusion of men who have sex with men (MSM) from donating blood—a simple, safe step that will expand a blood supply that is perilously low across all health care settings," leaders of the organizations said. (Sobey, Boston Herald, 3/23)
  • New York: New York City Mayor Eric Adams announced that the vaccine mandate for performers and athletes in local venues had been lifted—a move that allows unvaccinated athletes, including the Brooklyn Nets' Kyrie Irving, to compete in the city again. According to Adams, the exception was possible because of the recent decline in Covid-19 cases. However, Adams said the city is currently not considering rehiring workers who were fired for not complying with the original vaccine mandate. "A large number [of employees] were hired with the understanding they had to be vaccinated," he said. "They understood that and they decided not to do so. So at this time, we're not entertaining it." According to Adams, "[t]his is about putting New York City based performance on a level playing field."He added, "We were treating our performers differently because they lived and played for home teams? It's not acceptable." (Chen/Garfinkel, Axios, 3/24)

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