Andy Cohen ended Thursday night’s episode of his Bravo show Watch What Happens Live with an unusually sincere message.
As the host told viewers, after he recovered from the coronavirus earlier this month, he wanted to see what he could do to help others who are infected. He signed up for a program that helps COVID-19 survivors donate their antibody-rich plasma to those still battling the virus.
“I was told that due to antiquated and discriminatory guidelines by the FDA to prevent HIV, I am ineligible to donate blood because I’m a gay man,” Cohen said, referring to laws that date back to the early 1980s. He explained that “even the new relaxed rules require gay men to abstain from sex for three months, whether they’re in a monogamous relationship”—as he is—“or not, before giving blood,” noting that “no such blanket restrictions” are required for heterosexual donors.
“Here’s the thing, this virus is ravaging our planet,” Cohen said. “The FDA says there’s an urgent need for plasma from survivors. All donated blood is screened for HIV. And a rapid HIV test can be done in 20 minutes or less. So why the three month rule? Why are members of my community being excluded from helping out when so many people are sick and dying?”
“Maybe because we’re valuing stigma over science,” he continued. “My blood could save a life, but instead it’s over here boiling! This pandemic has forced us to adapt in many ways. We’re quarantining, we’re social distancing. We’re wearing masks! Why can’t we adapt when it comes to this rule?”
“It’s bad enough that quarantining has us wondering what day it is,” Cohen said. “I’m sitting here wondering what year it is! We need to think about this and do better.”