FDA Changes Blood Donation Restrictions
The FDA is lifting a 32-year-old lifetime ban on blood donations from gay and bi-sexual men. However, major restrictions will continue to limit who can donate.
The Food and Drug Administration says it will replace the blanket ban with a new policy barring donations from men who have had sex with a man in the previous year.
While the one-year ban has been criticized by activists, it matches policies in other countries, including Australia, Japan and the UK.
Gay rights activists said the new policy is a “step in the right direction,” but falls short.
The policy shift was first announced in late 2014 and followed years of outreach by medical groups and gay rights groups who said the blanket ban no longer made sense.
FDA officials signaled their agreement Monday, saying in a statement the change is “backed by sound science and continues to protect our blood supply.”
The lifetime ban was put in place during the early years of the AIDS crisis and was intended to protect the blood supply from what was a then little-understood disease.
But many medical groups, including the American Medical Association, argued the policy was no longer supported by science, given advances in HIV testing.
All U.S. blood donations are screened for HIV.
The American Red Cross estimates the risk of getting an HIV-positive blood donation is one in 1.5 million U.S. patients.