Encourage Penn Medicine to Take a Stance Against the FDA Blood Ban on MSM

Encourage Penn Medicine to Take a Stance Against the FDA Blood Ban on MSM

405 have signed. Let’s get to 500!

Why this petition matters

Started by Korey Henderson

In January 2022, the American Red Cross (ARC) issued its first blood crisis due to an extreme scarcity of blood donations from the COVID-19 pandemic. Amid this crisis, doctors have been forced to make difficult decisions about who receives transfusions and who will need to wait until more blood products become available. The pandemic has resulted in the ARC experiencing a 10% decline in the number of people donating blood since March 2020 along with other difficulties, including blood drive cancellations and staffing limitations. Because the ARC distributes 40% of the blood products needed for US hospitals, this has become a major detriment to the US blood supply. This unfortunately has resulted in the ARC, on certain days, being able to only supply a quarter of blood product requests from hospitals. This will likely lead to poorer patient outcomes, especially for those with blood disorders such as sickle cell disease.

As part of the medical field, it is our duty to advocate for fair and equitable practices that do no harm and provide service to our patients. Prior to April 2020, the ARC’s Full-Length Donor History Questionnaire (DHQ) excluded men who have sex with men (MSM) from donating blood if they had sexual contact with another man in the previous 12 months. The ARC is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and cannot individually change policies on blood donation eligibility requirements. After advocating for a decrease in the deferral time, in April 2020 the FDA reduced the deferral time for MSM from twelve to three months. Yet, this requirement remains exclusionary and targeted. It is estimated that if the deferral time were lifted entirely, an additional 360,000 men would likely be able to donate blood.

Lifting the deferral time could save lives while long-term projects, such as the ADVANCE Study, evaluate alternatives to the blood donor deferral policy like an individual risk assessment. This method has already been adopted in other countries such as the United Kingdom, France, Greece, Israel, Hungary, Denmark, and Brazil. Most recently in April 2022, the Canadian government eliminated the current three-month donor deferral period for MSM, and will instead screen all donors, regardless of gender or sexuality, for high-risk sexual behaviors through a questionnaire. This authorization was based on a thorough assessment of evidence supporting the safety of the revised donor screening.

The University of Pennsylvania Health System and the Perelman School of Medicine are part of the Penn Medicine system that in 2020 generated $8.9 billion in revenue, provided 5.6 million outpatient visits, and employed 44,000 people including 9,000 physicians. With this sphere of influence, it is crucial that Penn Medicine takes a stance to end discriminatory policies and regulations that only further perpetuate stigma against the LGBTQ+ community.

Please sign the petition below to show support for this cause and encourage Penn Medicine to:

  1. Publicly make a statement opposing the current FDA blood donor deferral policy on MSM
  2. Call for the FDA to consider the results of the ADVANCE Study as evidence to remove the blood donor deferral policy on MSM

For more information on this topic, please watch the following videos:


405 have signed. Let’s get to 500!