Broadcasting from his home on Thursday’s “Watch What Happens Live,” Cohen recounted to viewers his recent rejection from a program for coronavirus survivors, who have produced antibodies to counteract the virus, that organizes plasma donations to help treat individuals suffering from the virus. Cohen was not allowed to donate due to the FDA’s restrictions on blood and plasma donations, a policy implemented in the 1980s during the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
“This virus is ravaging our planet. The FDA says there is an urgent need for plasma from survivors. All donated blood is screened for HIV, and a rapid HIV test can be done in 20 minutes or less,” Cohen said. “Why are members of my community being excluded from helping out when so many people are sick and dying? Maybe because we’re valuing stigma over science… My blood could save a life but instead it’s over here boiling.”
On April 2, the FDA lowered its deferral period on men who have had sex with men from 12 months to three months. GLAAD has continued to campaign to urge the FDA to lift restrictions entirely, launching a petition that is now approaching 25,000 signatures.
“This antiquated ban is not only discriminatory, but has been debunked by leading medical organizations for years,” the petition reads. “The American Public Health Association has argued that the current ban ‘is not based in science but appears to be modeled after other countries’ choices and fears.’ The American Red Cross has also spoken out against the ban, noting that ‘blood donation eligibility should not be determined by methods that are based upon sexual orientation.'”
GLAAD thanked Cohen for speaking out against the ban after his speech last night.