FDA Lifts Ban On Blood Donations By Gay Men
The Food and Drug Administration has lifted a ban on blood donations by gay men.Advertisement
The lifetime ban, which had been in effect for 32 years, will be substituted by a new policy that will allow blood donations from gay men, provided they have not had sexual relations with another man for at least a year, the FDA announced Monday.
Peter Marks, deputy director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, said, “Relying on sound scientific evidence, we’ve taken great care to ensure the revised policy continues to protect our blood supply.” He added, “Ultimately, the 12-month deferral window is supported by the best available scientific evidence, at this point in time, relevant to the U.S. population.”
The FDA first brought the ban into effect in 1983, when gay men were not allowed to donate blood due to a risk of HIV transmission. According to Reuters, the United States follows the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand which also have the 12-month deferment period.
The new policy is being seen as discriminatory by gay rights advocates. “It is ridiculous and counter to the public health that a married gay man in a monogamous relationship can’t give blood, but a promiscuous straight man who has had hundreds of opposite sex partners in the last year can,” Jared Polis, a Democratic congressman and co-chair of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus, said.
Those suffering from hemophilia and blood clotting disorders will remain banned from donating blood due to possible harm from large needles. According to NPR, those showing support for the ban say that the infected individuals can pass the screening process undetected, as blood tests don’t detect the infection after one has been infected with HIV.
“These published studies document no change in risk to the blood supply with use of the 12-month deferral,” the agency said. “Similar data are not available for shorter deferral intervals.”