The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Friday proposed easing its ban on gay and bisexual men donating blood.

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 screening tests.

“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.