The Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
on Thursday announced it would ease its ban on gay and bisexual men
The FDA's move comes as the United
States has become the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, with
more than 250,000 reported cases as of Friday. On Thursday, the
number of confirmed cases around the globe hit the 1 million mark.
The FDA adopted a lifetime ban in 1983
in response to the AIDS crisis. In 2015, the agency relaxed the ban
to allow for donations from men who have sex with men who have
abstained from sexual contact for 12 months.
The new policy will shorten the
deferral period from 12 months to 3.
As the pandemic has intensified in the
United States, thousands of blood drives have been forced to cancel,
resulting in roughly 130,000 fewer donations. U.S. Surgeon General
Jerome Adams has called on Americans to donate blood amid the
“As a result of this public health
emergency, there is a significant shortage in the supply of blood in
the United States, which early implementation of the recommendations
in this guidance may help to address (even though the recommendations
in this guidance are broadly applicable beyond the COVID-19 public
health emergency),” the FDA said on its website.
“To help address this critical need
and increase the number of donations, the FDA is announcing today
that based on recently completed studies and epidemiologic data, we
have concluded that the current policies regarding the eligibility of
certain donors can be modified without compromising the safety of the
blood supply,” the agency said.
had called on the FDA to lift the blood ban, called the policy
change an “imperfect” victory.
“After weeks of pressure from GLAAD
and others, @US_FDA is lowering the deferral period on men who have
sex with men from 12 months to 3 months. This victory, however,
remains imperfect. We'll keep pushing for the ban to be lifted
entirely,” the group said in a tweet.
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the
nation's largest LGBT rights advocate, called the FDA's action a
“step in the right direction.”
“While this change by the FDA is a
step in the right direction, it still bases itself in bias rather
than science,” HRC President Alphonso David said in a statement.
“This is progress from the FDA. But our work is not yet done.”
David added that the FDA policy was
still “based on identity as opposed to risk” and called it
In recent months, representatives and
senators had called on the FDA to update its policy.
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