US considers completely lifting ban on gay men donating blood
The US is considering the removal of the current 12-month referral period for gay men wishing to donate blood.
Though the lifetime ban on gay men donating blood was only lifted last December, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is considering another overhaul of their policy.
The current blood ban prohibits gay men from donating for a year following their last sexual encounter in order to reduce the risk of transmitting HIV.
The new policy would allow gay men to donate on a case-by-case basis, which would take into consideration each individual’s HIV risk rather than imposing a blanket ban.
The FDA has said it will establish a public forum for comment about is current recommendations, and interested people should submit comments if they are backed by scientific evidence.
The agency said it would take the comments into account “as it continues to reevaluate and update blood donor deferral policies as new scientific information becomes available.”
“While the potential policy change could have a positive impact on men who have sex with men and other marginalised donors, it would also make our blood supply safer,” Mike Quigley, Vice-Chair of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus and US Representative, said in a statement.
“Moving towards an individual risk assessment would provide for a fair, equitable, non-discriminatory blood donation policy.”
The FDA’s action comes after 115 members of the US House of Representatives, led by Mr Quigley, wrote to the agency calling for an end to the current 12-month referral policy, and a similar letter was signed by 22 senators.
This also comes after the FDA said, just last month, that a blood ban lift was “years away” because there was not enough scientific evidence to guarantee the blood supply was safe.