After years of complaints from activists and scientists alike, the Federal Drug Administration has announced a new policy for men who have had sex with men and want to donate blood.
Hence forth, only men who have had sex with a man (MSM) in the last year will not be allowed to donate; gay men who have been sexually active in the last 365 days will continue to be banned from donating.
The lifetime ban on MSM blood donation started in the 80′s during the AIDs crisis, but advancement in testing and awareness had given rise to activists calling for the FDA to update their policy.
“In reviewing our policies to help reduce the risk of HIV transmission through blood products, we rigorously examined several alternative options, including individual risk assessment,” said Peter Marks, M.D., Ph.D., deputy director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, in a press release announcing the new policy. “Ultimately, the 12-month deferral window is supported by the best available scientific evidence, at this point in time, relevant to the U.S. population. We will continue to actively conduct research in this area and further revise our policies as new data emerge.”
The one year policy lines the US up with other countries like Australia and Britain.
But not everyone is satisfied with the update.
“In practice, the new policy is still a continuation of the lifetime ban and ignores the modern science of HIV-testing technology while perpetuating the stereotype that all gay and bisexual men are inherently dangerous,” Kelsey Louie, the executive director of the Gay Men’s Health Crisis, a leader in HIV/Aids providing care, told The Guardian after the announcement.
Openly gay Colorado Congressman Jared Polis took to twitter to also decry the new policy, saying it “still puts stereotypes before public health.”