The American Medical Association (AMA) has voted to reject a federal blanket ban preventing gay men from donating blood.
“The lifetime ban on blood donation for men who have sex with men is discriminatory and not based on sound science,” said AMA board member Dr William Kobler. “This new policy urges a federal policy change to ensure blood donation bans or deferrals are applied to donors according to their individual level of risk and are not based on sexual orientation alone.”
A blanket ban by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was introduced in 1983 in response to the AIDS outbreak, when little was known about HIV.
The AMA recommends that the FDA change its policy so that gay men are evaluated on an individual level rather than being lumped together in a high-risk category, in addition to crafting a policy that more accurately represents scientific research.
Louis Katz, the vice president for America’s Blood Centres, which provides nearly half of America’s blood supply, said one option for the FDA is to adopt policies similar to those used in other counties.
They can donate – providing they refrain from having sex with men for 12 months.
The one-year deferral was chosen in part because of Hepatitis B, which disproportionately affects gay and bisexual men.
While there is a four-week window between transmission and detection of HIV, Hepatitis B can take up to a year to be cleared by the body.