US officials have ‘no plans’ to lift ban on gay men giving blood
The Food and Drug Administration has “no plans” to further discuss the possibility of lifting the lifetime ban on gay and bisexual men giving blood.
In the US at present, regulations introduced during the AIDS crisis mean that all men who have sex with men (MSM) are banned from giving blood for life.
Critics say the practice is discriminatory and does not reflect modern screening practices, and the FDA is facing calls to introduce less discriminatory rules.
Lastt month a key advisory committee made recommendations that the regulations should be relaxed, voting 16-2 in favour of instead introducing a 12 month ban for MSM.
However, the FDA failed to come to an agreement on whether to accept the proposals – and has now kicked the discussion into the long grass.
Speaking to Buzzfeed, spokesperson Stephanie Yao said there were no further plans for the Blood Products Advisory Committee to discuss lifting the blood ban.
She said: “Unless there is a need for further discussion where we would need to convene another meeting, the BPAC has fulfilled its role in providing advice to the FDA on this topic.
“FDA does not plan to hold another BPAC meeting to discuss this issue.”
Ms Yao reiterated: “[Although] advisory committees provide recommendations to the agency, FDA makes the final decisions.”
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Ian Thompson of the American Civil Liberties Union lamented the “deliberate” decision, saying: “Ideally they would have removed sexual orientation entirely from the donor criteria and moved to a risk-based screening process.
“That is obviously not what they have chosen to do.”
Some campaigners are now considering putting pressure on the government to push for a legislative change – but a Democrat-backed measure is unlikely to get through after control of the Senate goes back to the Republicans.
In England, Wales and Scotland, MSM are banned from giving blood for 12 months after sexual activity. Northern Ireland maintains a permanent ban.