NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – As the nation continues the fight against COVID-19, blood and plasma donations are needed more than ever.

CBS2’s Cory James has why some survivors are being told they can’t help.

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“I got sick from COVID-19 in mid-March,” said Yuval David.

He told James his weeklong battle with COVID-19 was grueling.

“I was sleeping something like 20 hours per day. I was so physically exhausted,” David said.

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Once he got better, he decided he wanted to help others recover by donating his blood and plasma.

However, after calling the New York Blood Center and disclosing he is gay, married to a man, and had only been sexually active with his partner, David says he was told his blood could not be used.

“I don’t fit the three-month abstinence policy, but why should I?” he said.

That policy was modified by the FDA back in April. Before then, men who had sex with men and wanted to donate blood had to go an entire year without sex.

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The New York Blood Center tells us the updated guidance is in place to ensure a high level of blood safety.

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“That window period is when somebody could be exposed to HIV and when it’s actually detectable and there’s still a very small window of opportunity for that to happen,” said Rob Purvis of the New York Blood Center.

LGBTQ advocacy group GLAAD believes this is an issue of stigma that dates back to the ’80s during the HIV/AIDS crisis. The organization is petitioning to have what it calls a discriminatory ban lifted.

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“Science shows that blood from gay and bi men is safe and can be used. A three-month deferral time, or any deferral time, is not needed because all blood is screened to make sure HIV and other STIs are not in that blood,” said Rich Ferraro of GLAAD .

The FDA denied CBS2’s request for an on-camera interview but said the agency is working on a pilot study that will enroll about 2,000 men who have sex with men and who would be willing to donate blood.

A spokesperson said data from this will help determine if further changes need to be made to the current policy.

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