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Gay Blood, Bad Blood?

By on January 1, 2015

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday recommended lifting the lifetime ban on blood donations from gay men.

The agency made the decision about a month after a Department of Health and Human Services advisory committee recommended the same with a 16-2 vote.

The new recommendation is a one-year ban after a man last had sex with another man.

For 31 years, gay and bisexual men — or any man who has had sex with another man since 1977 — have been subject to a lifetime ban on donating blood over fears of the spread of HIV. While all donated blood is tested, HIV cannot be detected by current tests for 11 days after the virus is contracted.

Critics of the ban say it propagates a false stigma of gay men having HIV. The American Red Cross, the American Medical Association and the American Association of Blood Banks have all said the ban was medically and scientifically unnecessary.

“This recommended change is consistent with the recommendation of an independent expert advisory panel, the HHS Advisory Committee on Blood and Tissue Safety and Availability, and will better align the deferral period with that of other men and women at increased risk for HIV infection,” the FDA said in a news release.

The FDA said it intends to issue a draft guidance recommending the change in policy next year.

The American Red Cross said it welcomes the proposed change in policy.

“The American Red Cross believes all potential blood donors should be treated with fairness, equality and respect, and that accurate donor histories and medically supported donor deferral criteria are critical to the continued safety of blood transfusion,” a release from the organization said.

“The FDA’s decision to take steps to recommend a change in the blood donation deferral for men who have had sex with men from a lifetime deferral to a one-year deferral is consistent with the Red Cross position that the current lifetime deferral is unwarranted.”
This article courtesy of United Press International.