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Why Tinder wants to end the FDA’s discriminatory blood donor policy

June 1, 2022, 9:30 AM UTC
A sign for the FDA as seen in White Oak, Md.
All blood collected in the U.S. undergoes rigorous testing for HIV, which means that the restrictions no longer makes sense.
Sarah Silbiger - Getty Images

It seems like every day brings a story of new legislation that seeks to strip away the freedoms of LGBTQIA+ individuals. But legacy rules also continue to burden this community.

Because of an outdated and discriminatory policy, men who have sex with men have been effectively barred from donating blood by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The ban was implemented in September 1985 at a time when HIV was fundamentally misunderstood and feared.

Today the ban doesn’t make sense, particularly when you consider the advances in HIV/AIDS prevention, detection, and treatment. All blood collected in the U.S. undergoes rigorous testing for HIV.

However, organizations that collect blood like the Red Cross are forced to adhere to this policy, regardless of the realities of the science, because of mandatory FDA regulations. This policy is to these organizations’ detriment: It prevents hundreds of thousands of would-be donors from giving blood that UCLA researchers estimate could treat over a million people.

So, why does Tinder have a role in this fight? As the leader of a company built on the magic of human connection, it confounds me that people who desire to help those in need are held back by prejudiced policies. Through our work with the Human Rights Campaign, I have come to understand how I can use my platform as CEO to help effect change. While I am not impacted by this policy personally, I firmly believe that caring people should be empowered to make a positive impact on society.

The LGBTQIA+ community is the fastest-growing part of Tinder’s community, and I’ve personally heard countless stories from LGBTQIA+ users about our app being a place where they can be their true selves, sometimes even before they can be that person with their friends and family. That’s something that we are deeply proud of, and we want to advocate for that feeling of belonging.

This week, our parent company Match Group is sending a letter to the FDA urging them to prioritize the Assessing Donor Variability and New Concepts in Eligibility (ADVANCE) Study, which will help find a more inclusive alternative to the current policy. The FDA says it cannot change the policy without this study but has not allocated the resources to get it done in a timely manner.

While the ADVANCE Study has been fully funded by the FDA, the organization has not put enough resources into the recruitment effort to ensure its success.

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.

The pandemic has undeniably presented barriers to giving blood, but it would be a mistake to attribute the drop-off solely to that. Blood donation from the youngest generations has been steadily decreasing for more than 10 years.

Younger generations have been vocal about how they won’t engage with organizations that have policies they don’t support. More than 50% of Tinder members in the U.S. are aged 18 to 25. We are intimately connected to the issues that drive the next generation to action (or to boycott). 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.

Throughout Pride Month, Tinder users in the eight pilot cities where the study is running across the U.S. will be able to join us in our fight to help end this policy once and for all by swiping right on our “All Types” Pride Cards in the app, which will connect gay and bisexual men who are eligible for the study with more information and a way to sign up.

Despite the advances of the past few decades, members of the LGBTQIA+ community across our country are facing highly organized efforts to scale back their rights. It is time for the FDA to step up, prioritize science over stigma, and honor the hundreds of thousands of gay and bisexual men who are ready to contribute to our communities.

Renate Nyborg is the CEO of Tinder.

The opinions expressed in Fortune.com commentary pieces are solely the views of their authors and do not reflect the opinions and beliefs of Fortune.

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