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Identity

The FDA says it will finally eliminate blood donor rules against gay and bisexual men

An important step forward.

gay blood donations, fda, msm blood donor
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Three different types of blood donations.

The AIDS epidemic that began in the early '80s cast a stigma on all men who have sex with men, regardless of their HIV status. The idea that gay and bisexual men were somehow dangerous to the general public because of a health crisis in their community added to the stigmatization that already came with being LGBTQ.

In 1983, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned all men who have sex with men from donating blood. This rule stood until 2015 when the FDA lifted the lifetime ban for gay and bisexual males and limited it to men who had homosexual sex within the past year.

In 2020, the FDA eased restrictions on men who have sex with men again, due to a blood shortage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The abstinence period was shortened from a year to three months.


Now, the FDA looks to ease restrictions even further by eliminating bans based on sexuality and instead, focusing on individual risk through questionnaires. On November 30, the FDA released a statement saying it “will likely support a policy transition to individual risk-based donor screening questions for reducing the risk of HIV transmission.”

“The FDA remains committed to gathering the scientific data related to alternative donor deferral policies that maintain a high level of blood safety,” the statement continued. “We anticipate issuing updated draft guidance in the coming months.”

The FDA's announcement came a day ahead of World AIDS Day. This year's theme is “Putting Ourselves to the Test: Achieving Equity to End HIV.”

The statement was well-received by GLAAD, although the organization believes that the FDA has been behind the times on the issue for years.

“While today’s reports of an overdue move from the FDA is an important step, our community and leading medical experts will not stop advocating for the FDA to lift all restrictions against qualified LGBTQ blood donor candidates,” it said in a statement. “As LGBTQ leaders and medical experts have been saying for years: bans and restrictions on blood donations from gay and bisexual men are rooted in stigma, not science. Giving one set of rules to some people, and another set of rules to others, based purely on identity, is blatant discrimination.”

An FDA official told The Wall Street Journal that under the new guidelines, potential donors would be asked if they had anal intercourse with a new sexual partner within the past three months. Those who answer no will be allowed to donate.

Earlier this year, France and Greece lifted their bans on men who have sex with men completely. Greece announced the ban in January and it was applauded by LGBTQ rights groups.

“Lifting this long-lasting ban on blood donation was the least this government had to do,” Irene Petropoulou, chairperson of OLKE, a nongovernmental organization that fights for LGBT+ rights, said, according to Greek Reporter “Of course, it is great news, and we hope the government will pay more attention to other discriminations in the healthcare system and education."

France made its announcement in January as well.

“Starting on March 16, 2022, all French people, whatever their sexual orientation, will be able to donate blood,” Health Minister Olivier Véra said. “We are ending an inequality that is no longer justified,” he added.

Pedro Pascal and Bowen Yang can't keep a straight face as Ego Nwodim tries to cut her steak.

Most episodes of “Saturday Night Live” are scheduled so the funnier bits go first and the riskier, oddball sketches appear towards the end, in case they have to be cut for time. But on the February 4 episode featuring host Pedro Pascal (“The Mandalorian,” “The Last of Us”), the final sketch, “Lisa from Temecula,” was probably the most memorable of the night.

That’s high praise because it was a strong episode, with a funny “Last of Us” parody featuring the Super Mario Brothers and a sketch where Pascal played a protective mother.

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AMC Theaters/Youtube, Variety/Twitter

AMC announced that it would be implementing a new three-tier ticketing system.

AMC Theaters, America’s largest movie theater chain, announced on Feb 6 that it will be adopting different ticket prices based on seat location.

Moviegoers will have three tiers to choose from based on sightline of the movie screen—Preferred Sightline, set in the middle at the highest price point, Value Sightline, set in the front of the auditorium at the lowest price, and Standard Sightline, which is basically everything else (including the back seats, which are perhaps the most commonly picked) set at the traditional cost of a ticket.

In other words…heartbreak will feel more expensive in a place like this…or less, depending on where you sit



The company’s announcement was met with both criticism and approval. While some feel the move follows a well-established business model, others have found it to be taking away a valued aspect of the moviegoing experience.

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Photo by alevision.co on Unsplash/ @camerconstewart_uk/Instagram

"Sometimes it pays to learn a language!"

It feels safe to assume that if money were no object, people would always choose to travel business class over economy. After all, who doesn’t want a fast check-in, fancy food and drink choices and more of that sweet, spacious legroom?

However, at anywhere between four to ten times the price of a regular economy ticket, this style of traveling remains a fantasy for many who simply can’t afford it.

Luckily, thanks to one man’s clever travel hack, that fantasy might be more achievable than we realize.

Cameron Stewart, a British photojournalist and camera operator, recently shared how he was able to score business class tickets at a fraction of the price, simply by switching the website language from English to Spanish.
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A mother puts a fresh diaper on her baby.

Scientists at Penn State University have devised a “smart diaper” that alerts parents when their baby is wet. The diaper is made of paper, treated with sodium chloride (salt) and has a circuit board drawn with a pencil.

When the humidity level rises in the diaper, the graphite and the urine are absorbed by the paper and it turns on a sensor powered by a small lithium battery. The sensor then sets the alarm on an app that parents download onto their phones.

“The hydration sensor is highly sensitive to changes in humidity and provides accurate readings over a wide range of relative humidity levels, from 5.6% to 90%,” the researchers at Penn State said in a statement.

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Pop Culture

Kelly Clarkson and Pink's gorgeous unplugged 'What About Us?' duet came with a timely​ message

"We're not listening to each other right now. And it's so loud, and so gross, and so angry…"

Pink and Kelly Clarkson teamed up for a sweet acoustic version of "What About Us?"

Pink and Kelly Clarkson are both known for having powerhouse voices that can belt at incredible ranges but also soften for a sweet ballad. Put the two of them together, and…well, dang.

On Feb 6, Clarkson featured Pink on her daytime talk show, in which she often sings with musical guests. The two superstars sang several acoustic duets with pitch-perfect harmonies, prompting fans of both artists to clamor for a collaborative album.

One song they sang together was Pink's "What About Us?" Pink previously described the song to The Sun in 2017: "The world in general is a really scary place full of beautiful people. Humans are resilient and there's a lot of wonderful—like I said in the song—'billions of beautiful hearts' and there are bad eggs in every group. And they make it really hard for the rest of us."

In the intro to their duet, Clarkson asked Pink about the impetus behind her writing the song.

"We're not listening to each other right now. And it's so loud, and so gross, and so angry and people are being forgotten," Pink shared. "People are being counted out and their rights are being trampled on just because a group of people doesn't believe in them."

"Like, I don't understand how so many people in this world are discounted because one group of people decided they don't like that," she continued. "And I won't—I won't have it. One of the most beautiful things that my dad taught me was that my voice matters and I can make a difference, and I will."

The lyrics of the song seem to address the political leaders and decision-makers who hold people's lives in their hands as they pull the levers of power. It's a beautiful song with an important message wrapped up in gorgeous two-part harmony.

Enjoy:

Pop Culture

Keanu Reeves shocks a small-town pub by stopping in for a pint and taking photos with the staff

“So today we had a surprise visitor for lunch. What a lovely man he was, too."

Keanu Reeves in São Paulo, Brazil, 2019.

Keanu Reeves has a reputation as one of Hollywood’s nicest celebrities. Recently, he cheered up an 80-year-old fan who had a crush on him by calling her on the phone. He’s also bought an ice cream cone for a fan to give an autograph on the receipt and crashed a wedding to take photos with the bride and groom.

He’s also an incredible humanitarian who gave up a big chunk of his money from "The Matrix" to a cancer charity.

The “John Wick” star was his usual gracious self over the weekend when on Saturday, February 4, he and a friend walked into The Robin Hood pub in Tring, Hertfordshire, about 30 miles outside of London.

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