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Watch Alan Cumming's hilarious stand against the one-year blood donation ban for gay men

In a new video from LGBT group GLAAD, actor Alan Cumming takes a hilarious stand against US blood donation policy, giving gay men who want to donate two options: either stay celibate for a year, or sign a petition asking the Food and Drug Administration to change its policy to be more inclusive.

The video is a critique of a proposed FDA policy change that would let men and transgender women who have sex with men donate blood only if they abstain from sex for a full year. Under the current policy, any man or trans woman who has had sex with a man once is ineligible. (Cumming's video offers anyone interested in this 365-day challenge some tips, like taking a pottery class or joining a Civil War reenactment.)

The current FDA policy was established in the 1980s during the height of the HIV epidemic. Back then, there were a lot of fears and uncertainties about the transmission of HIV, with the disease originally believed by some to be related to sexual orientation. HIV blood tests were also much worse, failing to detect the virus for months.

Today, the situation is very different. We know much more about how HIV is transmitted, and that it's not related to sexual orientation but more to specific acts. It's better understood that gay relationships can be and often are monogamous. There are now nucleic acid tests that can detect the virus within weeks of exposure. Blood donations are regularly tested for HIV. And various studies suggest less restrictive standards on donations wouldn't negatively impact blood supplies.

The federal government has been slow to adapt its policies to the changing science, even as medical groups like the Red Cross have called for reform. But, in December, a panel that advises the US Department of Health and Human Services (and FDA) proposed eliminating the lifetime ban and moving to a one-year ban instead.

LGBT advocates and medical groups say the new policy would fail to eliminate the fundamentally discriminatory nature of the ban and overlook the real risk factors for HIV-contaminated blood, such as promiscuous sexual behavior. To better filter for HIV risk while opening up the pool of potential donors, advocates say the FDA should ask about sexual practices — not just who someone is having sex with — and allow men and trans women engaging in safe sex with men to donate blood, regardless of the time since their last sexual encounter.

As a group of lawyers and bioethicists put it in the scientific journal JAMA, "Although symbolically appealing, this equally arbitrary deferral interval fails to address several of the deficiencies of the 'screen and defer' paradigm. Indeed, it is the behavioral screen of prospective blood donors and not the length of the deferral period that is in need of reform."

But unless the FDA's screening paradigm changes, men and trans women who have sex with men will have to take Cumming's first option: "You just can't have sex for an entire year. That's right — 365 days of celibacy."

Further reading: This is what it's like to have HIV in 2014.