The Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
on Friday proposed easing its ban on gay and bisexual men donating
The FDA adopted a lifetime ban on gay
men donating blood in 1983 in response to the AIDS crisis. In 2015,
the agency relaxed the ban to allow for donations from gay men who
have abstained from sexual contact for 12 months. In 2020, the FDA
shortened the deferral period to 3 months to address the need for
blood during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the AP, the FDA has
proposed a system based on individual risk-based screening questions.
Potential donors will be asked about their sexual behavior and recent
partners to determine eligibility.
“If finalized, many gay and bisexual
men in monogamous relationships would be able to donate blood for the
first time in decades,” the AP wrote.
LGBTQ rights groups cheered the news
but criticized the exclusion of people taking PrEP, a prescription
medication used to prevent HIV through sexual contact. The agency
said that the medication can delay the detection of the virus in its
“We must be conscious to not further
stigmatize these safe sex practices and uplift individuals taking
precautions,” said Lambda Legal's Jose Abrigo.
“Today’s announcement represents an
important first step toward dismantling an antiquated and
discriminatory blood donation policy that restricts gay, bisexual,
and other men who have sex with men from donating blood,” said
Kelley Robinson, President of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC).
“LGBTQ+ advocates and other health
advocate leaders have worked for decades to pressure the FDA and
other regulatory agencies to update policy and move toward adopting
an approach rooted in science, not in identity. So while today’s
announcement is a victory, it’s not the end of the road; there is
much more that needs to be done, and we urge the Biden administration
to prioritize removing remaining barriers and ask the FDA to move
expeditiously while ensuring the safety of the blood supply and a
blood donation policy in-line with the science.”
Final guidelines will be issued
following a 60-day public comment period. It will also take several
months to implement the changes.
Canada and the UK have implemented
policies similar to what the FDA is proposing.