FDA lifts its 32-years-old ban on gay men donating blood

The Food and Drug Administration has officially lifted its lifetime ban on gay men donating blood. In 1983, the FDA banned all men who ever had sex with another man in an effort to combat the AIDS crisis.

The ban was reduced to a 12-month ban from the last time the prospective donor had sex with another man. The change comes after years of research conducted by the FDA, as well as communication with other government agencies.

“The FDA is changing its recommendation that men who have sex with men be indefinitely deferred… to 12 months since the last sexual contact with another man,” the administration announced in a press release.

Many have called for the ban to be lifted since medical research has learned much more about AIDS since the FDA’s initial decision in 1983. The American Association of Blood Banks called for the ban to be lifted in 2006, calling it “medically and scientifically unwarranted.”

Many feel that the FDA still continues to stigmatize gay and bisexual men by refusing to let them donate blood after being sexually active in the past year. The Human Rights campaign admitted that the change was “a step in the right direction,” but said that it fell short since the yearlong celibacy requirement was still unfair and unneeded.

“The United States government has to stop reacting to HIV like it is the early 1980s,” said Kelsey Louie, the CEO for Gay Men’s Health Crisis. “It is time for the FDA to implement a policy that is truly based on science, not blanket bans on certain groups of people.”

The deputy director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, Dr. Peter Marks, said that the yearlong limit was supported by scientific evidence that was specifically relevant to the United States’ population. Marks said that the FDA explored several different options including individual risk assessment, which groups including the Gay Men’s Health Crisis support.

The FDA also announced updated donor educational materials, procedures, and questionnaires. The new questionnaires asks transgender donors to self-identify and self-report for blood donation.

Featured image via Flickr

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