The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has revealed its plan to lift ban on blood donations by gay and bisexual males.
Blood donation in the U.S. is regulated by the FDA and all blood centers are required to follow the rules and regulations set up by the FDA. As per current FDA guidelines, gay and bisexual males who have been involved in sexual activity with another male since 1977 are barred from making blood donations.
The FDA argues that the ban on blood donations from bisexual and gay men is mainly to restrict transmission of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection via blood and blood products. However, many medical associations and activist groups have raised questions over the ban and they describe the practice as discriminatory.
The FDA proposal lifts the ban on blood donation from gay and bisexual men. However, men who have had sex with other men in the past 12 months are still banned from donating blood.
"Male donors deferred because of a history of sex with another man in the past 12 months may be eligible to donate provided they have not had sex with another man during the past 12 months and they meet all other donor eligibility criteria," per [pdf] the FDA document.
The FDA reveals that the new policy will let many gay men to come forward and make blood donations.
The latest policy has been welcomed by many people; however, some activist groups believe that the policy is still lacking behind.
"While the new policy is 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," says David Stacy, the Government Affairs Director of Human Rights Campaign.
Stacy added that the FDA policy prohibits gay and bisexual men to make blood donation just because of their sexual orientation. Stacy suggests that the blood donation ban is not justifiable in light of latest blood screening methods and scientific technology.
The FDA reveals that the one year deferral period for gay men before making a blood donation is in line with many countries such as the United Kingdom, Australia, Japan and Sweden. However, critics suggest that the latest FDA proposed policy should also consider modern medical tools that have the ability to detect an HIV infection as early as 9 to 11 days after been exposed to the deadly virus.
Photo: See-ming Lee | Flickr