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.
Why is my blood any better than @Andy blood? We have ways to test for viruses in blood, so why is it gay men still in 2020 can't donate blood? It's disgusting to me that this antiquated idea is still being used. https://t.co/KHeAeQqIBV
So, if someone in my family is dying from Covid-19, and you are standing there willing to donate (probably life saving) plasma, the FDA are going to just let my family member die?! Heterosexuals get AIDS too! The blood and plasma is tested before its given. It's not even a risk!
Andy Cohen just announced on his show that because he's gay he can't donate blood to help people with covid-19. He already had the virus. They're keeping the 3-month blood donation rule in place for gay men even in situations like this.
@andy that's ridiculous. Everyone who survives CV19 & is willing to donate bloi for plasma should be able to donate to save a life. U r right they test blood so no reason. #coronavirus #igiveup #stupidity
I'm so pissed off about this! I have an immunodeficiency called hypogammaglobulinemia. I receive immunoglobulin infusions every 4 weeks. This is life saving! Does this also mean gay men cannot donate plasma (even when there isn't a pandemic?!) WTF?! :(
I just heard @Andy explain on @BravoWWHL that gay men still cannot donate blood or plasma after surviving #COVID19 due to antiquated laws and fear of AIDS. All donated blood is tested for HIV! People are dying from this disease, this is beyond infuriating. https://t.co/It494sxAad
@Andy I want to thank you for telling us about not being able to donate plasma because you are gay! This angers me to no end! People are dying by the thousands! WTF IS WRONG WITH OUR COUNTRY!? @RedCross please respond! Thank you
@Andy that has been the reality since at least the 1990s. I tried to donate blood back in 1991 when I moved to Los Angeles, and was told that I would be put on permanent deferral for the same reasons that you explained today in @WWH. It's ludicrously homophobic!#andycohen
@Andy Do not get me started on the ban for gays to donate blood. After 9-11 I had an article published in the Chicago Paper blasting FDA for not being allowed to donate blood. Straight people don't know a thing about the ban. A hooker can donate blood but we can't. Disgusting