FDA relaxes gay blood ban

Tue. December 22, 2015 10:31 AM by Carlos Santoscoy

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is relaxing its ban on blood donations from gay and bisexual men.

The agency's lifetime ban on gay blood, first adopted in 1983 in response to the AIDS crisis, is being scaled back. The new policy announced Monday will allow gay and bisexual men to donate blood if they have not had sexual contact with another man for at least one year.

"Relying on sound scientific evidence, we've taken great care to ensure the revised policy continues to protect our blood supply," said Peter Marks, deputy director of the FDA's Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research.

The FDA proposed the policy change last year.

Gay rights advocates and many medical groups say that the ban is unnecessary because blood can be accurately screened for HIV. Opponents of the ban said the new policy discriminates against gay and bisexual men and fuels stigma.

"The FDA has decided not to bring their policy in line with science and instead continues its longstanding discrimination against gay and bisexual men, people who inject drugs, and people who engage in sex work," said Russell Roybal, deputy executive director of the National LGBTQ Task Force. "The new policy further fuels negative LGBTQ stereotypes and stigma associated with HIV and AIDS as it stops short of fully lifting an antiquated and scientifically unsound ban established in the height of the epidemic – when not enough was know about the virus."

Article provided in partnership with On Top Magazine