Gay and bisexual men in monogamous relationships will find it easier to donate blood under new federal guidelines that will be proposed soon, according to a published report.
The Washington Post reported on Thursday that gay and bisexual men will no longer be forced to abstain from sex in order to give blood. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration is expected to relax the restrictions after years of pressure by the American Medical Association, blood banks and LGBTQ rights groups, according to the newspaper.
Experts have said that the current rules are outdated, ineffective and homophobic and are a throwback to scares prompted by the earliest days of the AIDS crisis several decades ago.
Breaking news: Monogamous gay and bisexual men will be allowed to donate blood under planned FDA guidance, easing decades-long restrictions. New rules will focus on sexual behaviors, regardless of gender, that pose a higher risk of transmitting HIV.https://t.co/hfcoasDGld— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) January 26, 2023
A complete prohibition was enacted during the 1980s, according to The New York Times. In 2015, the FDA allowed gay and bisexual men to donate blood if they had not had sex with other men during the previous year, according to the newspaper.
That restriction was reduced to three months after there were severe blood shortages during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Times reported.
The FDA is expected to adopt the new proposal after there is a period of public comment, according to the Post.
“Keeping the blood supply safe is paramount, but it is also important to move forward so that we are not excluding a group of donors who could be perfectly safe,” Claudia Cohn, chief medical officer for the Association for the Advancement of Blood and Biotherapies, a nonprofit that oversees the development of donor screening questionnaires, told the newspaper.
Some activists believe gay men would still be treated unfairly under the proposed guidelines, which would allow them to give blood if they had not had a new male sexual partner in the prior three months, the Post reported.
“Being monogamous with someone who is not living with HIV is not the only way to prevent transmission,” Jason Cianciotto, vice president for communications and public policy at Gay Men’s Health Crisis, told the newspaper.
The new guidelines were first reported by The Wall Street Journal.
“I think it is a nominal step in the right direction,” Sarah Kate Ellis, the president and chief executive of GLAAD, told the Times in December. “It’s not where it should be, though. Our community and leading medical experts have been saying now for years that these decisions that the FDA is making on blood bans for the LGBTQ community are based in stigma and not science. And we’re seeing that pattern continue here.”
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