Tinder and the Human Rights Campaign have partnered to end so-called blood bans involving members of the LGBTQIA+ community in the U.S.
Since 1985, the Food and Drug Administration has banned men who have had sex with other men from donating blood due to “the strong clustering of AIDS illness and the subsequent discovery of high rates of HIV infection in that population.”
In 2015, the policy was loosened to a one-year deferral from having sex with other men. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which shut down thousands of blood drives in early 2020, the deferral was shortened to three months.
Still, despite evidence showing that men who had sex with men don’t have any higher prevalence of HIV infection, the restriction remains in place.
In an op-ed published Wednesday, Tinder CEO Renate Nyborg wrote that the blood bans “make no sense” in the wake of widespread HIV/AIDS prevention, detection and treatment efforts.
Nyborg called it an “outdated and discriminatory” policy that prevents thousands of would-be donors from contributing blood – and even more from receiving necessary donations — while the country experiences a severe shortage.
“We are intimately connected to the issues that drive the next generation to action (or to boycott),” she wrote. “We know that the sustainable, predictable supply of blood necessary for hospitals to perform lifesaving care depends on how powerful institutions address this issue. The FDA’s policy needs to change now, for everyone’s benefit.”
To that end, Match Group, Tinder’s corporate parent, will send a letter to the FDA this week pushing the agency to prioritise the Assessing Donor Variability and New Concepts in Eligibility (ADVANCE) Study, which seeks to offer a more inclusive policy.
Nyborg wrote that while the FDA has funded the ADVANCE Study, it has not provided adequate resources for a recruitment effort to ensure its success. She added that LGBTQIA+ individuals are the fastest-growing part of Tinder’s community.
“Tinder and Match Group are speaking out because the current policy is not only outdated, but it also risks alienating an entire generation of blood donors and preventing those most in need of blood donations from receiving vital care,” Nyborg wrote.
The Tinder/HRC partnership comes amid mounting criticism of blood bans from prominent healthcare organisations such as the American Medical Association, which called for the policy to be lifted in January. Even the Red Cross stated on its website that it recognises the “hurt this policy has caused” to the LGBTQIA+ community and believes blood donation eligibility “should not be determined by methods that are based upon sexual orientation.”