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US relaxes blood donation restrictions for gay, bisexual men

In the United States, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has finally announced that it will expand the ability of gay and bisexual men to donate blood by moving to a single set of criteria for all prospective blood donors.

Took the USA long enough.

In the United States, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has finally announced that it will expand the ability of gay and bisexual men to donate blood by moving to a single set of criteria for all prospective blood donors.

The FDA updated federal guidelines for blood donations to do away with a requirement that men who have sex with men (MSM) abstain from sex for three months prior to giving blood. Instead, all potential donors — regardless of sexual orientation, sex or gender — will now be screened with a new questionnaire evaluating individual risks for HIV based on sexual behavior, recent partners, et cetera.

“The implementation of these recommendations will represent a significant milestone for the agency and the LGBTQI+ community,” Dr. Peter Marks, director of FDA’s Center for Biological Therapies, said in a statement.

Older policy discriminated against gay and bisexual men who wanted to donate blood, limiting their ability to donate due to the erroneous assumption that they may have HIV even if the virus can impact people from different backgrounds. The new guidelines are in line with the latest scientific evidence, and also mirror standards in countries such as the United Kingdom and Canada.

Photo by Charlie-Helen Robinson from Pexels.com

The new guidelines specify:

  • that potential donors who report having had anal sex with a new partner within the last three months will be asked to wait to donate until a later date;
  • that anyone who has ever tested positive for HIV will remain barred from donating; and
  • that people taking HIV prevention medication such as PrEP will be barred for up to three months after their last dose.

The new guidelines, crafted in January and can now be used by blood banks, focus on individual behavior instead of sexual orientation.

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