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The FDA has eased restrictions on gay blood donors to help with the COVID-19 crisis
via Pixabay

Amid the AIDS epidemic in 1983, the FDA banned gay and bisexual men from donating blood in an attempt to stop the spread of the virus. Back then, little was known about the disease and there were no quick tests to determine if someone had it.

These days HIV testing can be done in as little as 15 minutes and the disease can be detected as little as 18 days after initial exposure. The disease is also no longer a death sentence. Those who get proper medical treatment can live as long or almost as long as those who are HIV negative.

In 2015, the FDA lifted the lifetime ban for gay and bisexual males and reduced it to any men who had homosexual sex within the past year.


For many, these blood donation bans seemed to stem from homophobia.

Although HIV is more prevalent among gay and bisexual men, heterosexuals also engage in high-risk sexual behavior. But they were only banned from donating blood if they had sex with a prostitute, accepted payment for sex or injected drugs.

via Attitude / Twitter

Now, given the need for blood during the coronavirus crisis, the FDA has made big changes to its blood donation rules. On April 2, the FDA announced it had shortened the period of gay-sex abstinence from 12 months to just three.

"To help address this critical need and increase the number of donations, the FDA is announcing today that based on recently completed studies and epidemiologic data, we have concluded that the current policies regarding the eligibility of certain donors can be modified without compromising the safety of the blood supply," the notice says.

"As a result of this public health emergency, there is a significant shortage in the supply of blood in the United States, which early implementation of the recommendations in this guidance may help to address (even though the recommendations in this guidance are broadly applicable beyond the COVID-19 public health emergency)," the memo says.

The new ruling also reduced the ban on donations from women who have had sex with a man who has had sex with a man to three months as well.

via Instinct / Twitter

The new policy also reduces the 12-month deferral to people who've had tattoos to three months and the lifetime ban for those who've exchanged sex for money and accepted money for sex to just three months.

President Trump is on board with the decision which is surprising given his lackluster record on LGBT rights.

"President Trump wants those who wish to donate blood and for those who accept the donations to be able to do so safely," White House Deputy Secretary Judd Deere said via email to the Washington Blade. "Today's decision is driven by health and science. The White House supports the Commissioner on this action."

Sarah Kate Ellis, the CEO of GLAAD, celebrated the change but believes more has to be done.

"This is a victory for all of us who raised our collective voices against the discriminatory ban on gay and bisexual men donating blood," Ellis said.

"The FDA's decision to lower the deferral period on men who have sex with men from 12 months to 3 months is a step towards being more in line with science, but remains imperfect, Ellis added. "We will keep fighting until the deferral period is lifted and gay and bi men, and all LGBTQ people, are treated equal to others."

All images provided by Bombas

We can all be part of the giving movement

True

We all know that small acts of kindness can turn into something big, but does that apply to something as small as a pair of socks?

Yes, it turns out. More than you might think.

A fresh pair of socks is a simple comfort easily taken for granted for most, but for individuals experiencing homelessness—they are a rare commodity. Currently, more than 500,000 people in the U.S. are experiencing homelessness on any given night. Being unstably housed—whether that’s couch surfing, living on the streets, or somewhere in between—often means rarely taking your shoes off, walking for most if not all of the day, and having little access to laundry facilities. And since shelters are not able to provide pre-worn socks due to hygienic reasons, that very basic need is still not met, even if some help is provided. That’s why socks are the #1 most requested clothing item in shelters.

homelessness, bombasSocks are a simple comfort not everyone has access to

When the founders of Bombas, Dave Heath and Randy Goldberg, discovered this problem, they decided to be part of the solution. Using a One Purchased = One Donated business model, Bombas helps provide not only durable, high-quality socks, but also t-shirts and underwear (the top three most requested clothing items in shelters) to those in need nationwide. These meticulously designed donation products include added features intended to offer comfort, quality, and dignity to those experiencing homelessness.

Over the years, Bombas' mission has grown into an enormous movement, with more than 75 million items donated to date and a focus on providing support and visibility to the organizations and people that empower these donations. These are the incredible individuals who are doing the hard work to support those experiencing —or at risk of—homelessness in their communities every day.

Folks like Shirley Raines, creator of Beauty 2 The Streetz. Every Saturday, Raines and her team help those experiencing homelessness on Skid Row in Los Angeles “feel human” with free makeovers, haircuts, food, gift bags and (thanks to Bombas) fresh socks. 500 pairs, every week.

beauty 2 the streetz, skid row laRaines is out there helping people feel their beautiful best

Or Director of Step Forward David Pinson in Cincinnati, Ohio, who offers Bombas donations to those trying to recover from addiction. Launched in 2009, the Step Forward program encourages participation in community walking/running events in order to build confidence and discipline—two major keys to successful rehabilitation. For each marathon, runners are outfitted with special shirts, shoes—and yes, socks—to help make their goals more achievable.

step forward, helping homelessness, homeless non profitsRunning helps instill a sense of confidence and discipline—two key components of successful recovery

Help even reaches the Front Street Clinic of Juneau, Alaska, where Casey Ploof, APRN, and David Norris, RN give out free healthcare to those experiencing homelessness. Because it rains nearly 200 days a year there, it can be very common for people to get trench foot—a very serious condition that, when left untreated, can require amputation. Casey and Dave can help treat trench foot, but without fresh, clean socks, the condition returns. Luckily, their supply is abundant thanks to Bombas. As Casey shared, “people will walk across town and then walk from the valley just to come here to get more socks.”

step forward clinic, step forward alaska, homelessness alaskaWelcome to wild, beautiful and wet Alaska!

The Bombas Impact Report provides details on Bombas’s mission and is full of similar inspiring stories that show how the biggest acts of kindness can come from even the smallest packages. Since its inception in 2013, the company has built a network of over 3,500 Giving Partners in all 50 states, including shelters, nonprofits and community organizations dedicated to supporting our neighbors who are experiencing- or at risk- of homelessness.

Their success has proven that, yes, a simple pair of socks can be a helping hand, an important conversation starter and a link to humanity.

You can also be a part of the solution. Learn more and find the complete Bombas Impact Report by clicking here.

via UNSW

This article originally appeared on 07.10.21


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