The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has expressed the possibility of lifting the decades-old blood donation ban from gay men, a safeguard measure against HIV.
In a statement, the FDA announced that the agency is open to comments on how it can improve its blood donor deferral recommendations, which bans gay men from donating blood unless they are abstinent for at least a year.
The announcement signals an policy open to accepting blood donations from gay men. It came after the agency received complaints that the current policy is discriminatory.
“Interested persons are invited to submit comments, supported by scientific evidence such as data from research, regarding potential blood donor deferral policy options to reduce the risk of HIV transmission, including the feasibility of moving from the existing time-based deferrals related to risk behaviors to alternate deferral options, such as the use of individual risk assessments,” an excerpt of the statement reads.
The FDA noted that comments and recommendations received will be considered by the agency in terms of revising blood donation deferral system and policies. Interested parties have 120 days to submit their comments to the agency.
HIV, or Human Immunodeficiency Virus, is the virus that causes Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS).
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According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), around 1.2 million of people in the U.S. are living with HIV. Of which, 1 out of 8 are unaware that they have the virus, the CDC added.
In 2014 alone, around 44,073 Americans were diagnosed with the virus. Of the total men diagnosed with HIV in the same year, around 83 percent of them or 29,418 are gay men or men having sex with men. They represent 67 percent of the total population diagnosed with the virus in 2014.