Even though there is a heightened demand for plasma from COVID-19 survivors, Cohen was still told he was “ineligible to donate blood because [he is] a gay man.”
Andy Cohen’s "Moment of Mazel" turned into a rant of epic proportions and a call for action on Thursday night’s "Watch What Happens Live" after he saw his efforts to get involved and help in the battle against COVID-19 thwarted … because he’s a gay man.
The late-night host revealed that despite a huge demand for donations from those who have recovered from coronavirus, he was told that hew as ineligible because of "antiquated and discriminatory guidelines by the FDA" in order to prevent HIV. In other words, guidelines probably established in the 1980s when AIDS was the epidemic sweeping the nation.
But much has changed since then, including treatment and testing for HIV. Alas, apparently not enough has changed.
"Even the new relaxed rules require gay men to abstain from sex for three months, whether they’re in a monogamous relationship or not before giving blood," Cohen pointed out. "Though no such blanket restrictions exist for people of other sexual orientations."
In other words, even as they were relaxing guidelines in an effort to qualify more people to be able to donate during this crisis, there was still such a stigma and fear of the gay community that they kept these antiquated restrictions in place.
But as Cohen pointed out, all donated blood has been screened for HIV for years, and there are rapid test that can offer results in 20 minutes or less these days. It is because of extensive testing and work that we’ve come to this point with HIV, a disease that was as out of control in its time as COVID-19 is now.
And it’s only through opening up the gateways to all survivors to get involved in helping with this crisis that we can get to that point with this new threat. And yet, already we’re discriminating based on what? Gay marriage is legal and yet a gay married man still can’t donate because of stereotypes about his lifestyle that were antiquated when they were first created?
"Why are members from my community being excluded from helping out when so many people are sick and dying?" Cohen asked. "Maybe because we’re valuing stigma over science, I don’t know."
As his guests Wendi McLendon-Covey and Leah McSweeney looked on in shock and horror that this is still the world we live in, Cohen lamented, "My blood could save a life, but instead it’s over here boiling."
"It is bad enough that quarantine has us wondering what day it is, I’m sitting here wondering what year it is," he concluded. "We need to think about this and do better."
Twitter immediately lit up in support of Cohen’s rant, echoing his call for change so that all Americans who want can do their part to help in the fight against coronavirus without facing decades-old stigmas and prejudices.
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