The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has finally lifted the lifetime ban on blood donations from bisexual and gay men, who are clinically referred to as ‘men who have sex with men’ (MSM).
The FDA’s new policy replaces the lifetime ban on gay and bisexual male blood donors with a one-year deferral for gay men. It means gay men must be celibate for at least one year for becoming eligible to donate blood.
The federal agency said in a statement, “Taking into account the recommendations of advisory committees … the FDA, the agency will take the necessary steps to recommend a change to the blood donor deferral period for men who have sex with men from indefinite deferral to one year since the last sexual contact.”
The federal agency lifted the decades-old ban based on a study by Australia government that along with the UK and New Zealand governments lifted their lifelong bans on gay men as blood donors to twelve months.
While many gay rights activists welcomed the change, some in the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus criticized it, arguing that it is hypocrisy because a straight man whose sexual encounters in a year ago have been varied could donate blood but a gay man in a long-term relationship could not.
But, Dr. Peter Marks, the deputy director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation & Research, said that the requirement for yearlong celibacy for bisexual and gay men is supported by scientific evidence.
The ban was introduced more than three decades ago in the year of 1983 with an intention to protect people receiving blood transfusions from HIV-infected people.
DallasVoice reported that, The Food and Drug Administration issued new rules on blood donation by gay men this week, changing a 30-year-old policy disqualifying any man who has ever had sex with another man from donating blood in the U.S. The new policy says men must wait 12 months after their last sexual contact with another man, mirroring blood donation rules in place in Great Britain and Australia, among other countries.
The FDA sets national standards for blood donation. The ban on gay men donating blood was put in place near the beginning of the AIDS crisis, once it was understood that the virus causing AIDS could be passed through blood transfusion.
Patch report said, gay and bisexual men will now be able to donate blood, according to new FDA regulations announced this week. The new guidelines put an end to a 32-year-old FDA ban on blood donations from men who have had sex with men (MSM), which was enacted in 1983 due to concerns about the spread of the HIV virus through blood transfusions.
However, the FDA still recommends a ban on donations from MSM unless they have abstained from sex for at least a year.
According to the TheVillagesSunTimes, so far the American Association for Blood Banks, America's Blood Centers and the American Red Cross have urged the FDA to change its policy since 2006, calling the lifetime ban on male blood donors who ever had sex with another man "medically and unscientifically unwarranted". Canada has already modified their policy to a five-year deferral policy, while the United Kingdom and Australia have a one-year deferral policy, and South Africa has a six-month deferral policy.
The ban against gay and bisexual blood donors was put into place in 1983, a year after AIDS was actually discovered outside the homosexual community. There is no data for shorter deferral times, the FDA said.