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Broward lawmaker, COVID survivor denied from donating plasma due to sexuality

Florida lawmaker Rep. Shevrin Jones says he was turned away from donating his COVID antibody-rich plasma due to his sexuality (WPEC).{ }
Florida lawmaker Rep. Shevrin Jones says he was turned away from donating his COVID antibody-rich plasma due to his sexuality (WPEC).
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Responding to the critical need for antibody-rich plasma donations, COVID survivor Representative Shevrin Jones (D-West Park) tried to give blood recently -- but says he was turned away due to his sexuality.

Jones, who is openly gay, told CBS12 News he answered screening questions honestly, identifying himself as a homosexual male who has had sexual contact within the last three months.

He was surprised to learn that disqualified him from giving blood to OneBlood, under federal guidelines.

"I was under the impression that these rules had become lax, considering the time we are in, and the amount of plasma we need," said Rep. Jones.

Susan Forbes, a spokesperson for OneBlood, told CBS12 News this is an FDA rule -- not a OneBlood specific policy.

"All blood centers are required to follow the rules and regulations handed down by the Food and Drug Administration," Forbes said. "We as an industry have worked in different capacities with different studies to see if changes can be made to that policy."

The rules against gay men donating blood and plasma go back to 1985, when the FDA issued an order barring men who had sex with other men.

It was meant to reduce the transmission of HIV/AIDS.

In 2015, the FDA relaxed its rule, and allowed gay men to donate blood as long as they were abstinent for an entire year leading up to the donation.

The rule was further changed in April of this year due to the pandemic and the urgent need for blood and plasma.

The FDA announced that the 12-month rule would be changed to 3 months.

Rep. Jones says that's not good enough.

"It's weird because anyone else could be out the night before, doing God knows what, and they are a heterosexual male or female and those kinds of questions are not being asked of you," he said. "You are put in a room and felt like you're being scolded for trying to save a life."

Jones took to Twitter over the weekend to voice his disappointment.

"Too bad my blood plasma isn't good enough," he said.

His tweets caught the attention of Florida Emergency Management Director Jared Moskowitz, who posted "This is an FDA policy that MUST be changed."

Rep. Jones said he is hoping Senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott work to change federal policies for blood and plasma donations.

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