North Carolina's top health official has joined an effort to end a federal blood donation policy that he calls “discriminatory” against gay men. 

 North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kody Kinsley has asked the Food and Drug Administration to remove a policy that requires a three-month waiting period for sexually active gay men to donate blood.

Kinsley was joined by health officials from eight other states and the District of Columbia in signing a letter asking the FDA to revisit the policy, which has its roots in the HIV/AIDS epidemic of nearly 40 years ago.

Kinsley says that new methods of testing blood donations mean that the risk of HIV-infected blood entering the blood supply “is negligible.”

Kinsley, who is the first openly gay person to serve as a North Carolina cabinet member, wrote in a Twitter post that the issue was personal for him. He expressed frustration that he could not donate blood at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the national blood shortage. He also noted that the policy serves to “further stigmatize an already marginalized group.”  

Kinsley received praise from the LGBTQ advocacy group Equality NC, which called the policy “outdated and scientifically unnecessary.”

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