“Current federal rules prohibit blood banks from collecting donations from men who have had sex with men within the last three months.”
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recently announced that it intends to end a blanket ban on blood donations from sexually active gay men.
Research backed by the Food and Drug Administration “will likely support” ending a blanket ban on blood donations from sexually active gay men, the agency said Wednesday. The move would mark a significant reversal of a measure aimed at curbing the spread of HIV that experts and activists have long criticized as overly broad and misguided.
Current federal rules prohibit blood banks from collecting donations from men who have had sex with men within the last three months. An alternative approach researched in the FDA-funded ADVANCE study tested out relying on questionnaires to screen donors, instead of broad “time-based deferrals.”
“Although we do not have a specific timeline for when our analysis will be complete, the agency believes the initial data from the study, taken in the context of other data available from blood surveillance in the U.S. and in other countries, will likely support a policy transition to individual risk-based donor screening questions for reducing the risk of HIV transmission,” the FDA’s Carly Kempler said in a statement.
The total ban on blood donations from gay/bisexual men was lifted in 2015, donors were required to abstain from sex for a year before donating. This abstinence time-frame was further reduced to three months in 2020.
According to plans being drawn up by the FDA, seen by the WSJ [link], men and women donating blood will now have to fill out a questionnaire that asks them about their recent sexual activity.
Sources said they would be asked if they had any new sexual partners in the past three months.
People who say they have not would be free to donate.
But those who say they have would be asked if they had anal intercourse over the past three months.
People who say they have not would also be allowed to donate.
But those who say they have will likely be asked to wait three months before donating blood.
Medical and blood donation organizations support the FDA’s move.
“The AMA [American Medical Association] relentlessly advocates for eliminating public policies that do not align with scientific evidence and best ethical practices, which is why we have urged the FDA to use rational, scientifically-based deferral periods for donation of blood, corneas and other tissues that are fairly and consistently applied to donors according to their individual risk,” AMA President Dr. Jack Resneck Jr. told CNN.
The American Red Cross said Wednesday it “believes blood donation eligibility should not be determined by methods that are based upon sexual orientation and is committed to working with partners toward achieving this goal.”
The Red Cross added that it has been involved in the FDA-funded ADVANCE study to determine whether a questionnaire that assessed individual risks in gay and bisexual donors could replace a blanket time-based policy.
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