The Food and Drug Administration has lifted a decades-long policy banning gay and bisexual men from donating blood in order to prevent HIV transmission through blood.
But men who have sex with men (MSM) will still be subject to a one-year waiting period from the date of their last sexual encounter. “Based on the evidence now available, FDA has changed its recommendation from the indefinite deferral for MSM to a 12 month blood donor deferral since last MSM contact,” the FDA says. The government has revised its policies on several occasions over the last decade and this is just the latest step. According to the FDA, the policy was reconsidered in 2010.
The government affairs director of the Human Rights Coalition called the change a “step in the right direction.”
“This new policy prevents men from donating life-saving blood based solely on their sexual orientation rather than actual risk to the blood supply,”said David Stacy, HRC’s Government Affairs Director. “While it’s a step in the right direction toward an ideal policy that reflects the best scientific research, it still falls far short of a fully acceptable solution because it continues to stigmatize gay and bisexual men.”
Under the new recommendations, people who have ever tested positive for HIV, exchanged sex for money or drugs, and other factors are barred from donating blood. Additionally, people who have gotten a tattoo or piercing within the past year are subjected to a one-year waiting period. HIV is transmitted through exchanges of bodily fluid including semen, vaginal discharge, and blood.