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
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.”