- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 19, 2015

A new video from gay rights supporters is mocking a proposed federal policy on blood donations from gay and bisexual men.

The video from Gay Men’s Health Crisis and GLAAD features actor Alan Cumming offering advice from the fictitious “Department of Sexual Abstinence.”

Here are “fully approved” ways for gay and bisexual men to handle themselves as they go for a year without sex to qualify to donate blood, said Mr. Cumming, a bisexual actor who played the treacherous Russian computer geek in the James Bond film, “Goldeneye.”

One piece of advice is to take a pottery class, according to the video. Or “practice for New Year’s” — illustrated by a man popping a champagne cork — or “clean your house,” which shows a man polishing a tall trophy.

Alternatively, Mr. Cumming said, people can sign a petition with the “Celibacy Challenge” to “pressure the [Food and Drug Administration] to screen all prospective blood donors based on risk, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

“Straight guys can have safe sex with woman after woman and still donate blood. But gay and bi men who have had safe sex for an entire year — even with a monogamous partner — would still be banned,” the groups said in their petition drive.

Like agencies in other countries have done, the FDA is proposing that the United States end its lifetime ban on men who have had sex with men (MSM) even once since 1977. However, under the new policy, sexually active MSM would be deferred from donating blood unless they have not had sex in the last 12 months.

MSM, according to federal data, continue to have the highest rate of new HIV infections, and many people with HIV are unaware they carry the virus, scientists and medical experts told the FDA last year. Major groups for blood-using populations asked the FDA to exercise great caution in changing the donor policy.

The proposed policy is expected to go through a formal comment period this year.

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