The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced Tuesday plans to remove the long-standing prohibition on blood donations from gay men.
As a result of consistent pressure from gay rights advocacy groups, the FDA has spent the past few years reviewing the scientific literature relating to gay men donating blood. After consultations with the Department of Health and Human Services Advisory Committee on Blood and Tissue Safety and Availability, the FDA has agreed that a change is needed. Soon, instead of facing a permanent deferral, gay men who abstain from sex with other men for a year will be able to donate blood.
In the meantime, the FDA is working with the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute to implement a massive blood surveillance system nationwide, in order to determine the effects of the new policy change after it’s put in place. However, the proposed change is not yet finalized. In 2015, the FDA will release draft guidance advocating for the new regulation. There will be a period where the public and all relevant stakeholders can comment.
A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated that in 2010, 63% of new HIV infections in the United States came from men who have sex with other men. However, the American Medical Association (AMA) and other groups still think that the blood ban is based on unwarranted science. The AMA voted in 2013 to kill the ban.
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