The United States Department of Health and Human Services is considering a pilot program that would allow sexually active gay men to donate blood.
Current regulations forbid any man who has had sex with another men since 1977 to donate blood, due to what HHS describes as ““higher levels of certain transfusion-transmissible infections” within the community. Now, however, the department says that testing for sexually transmitted diseases has advanced to the point that such restrictions may no longer be necessary.
“[T]he increased effectiveness of donor testing for [HIV], [Hepatitis B Virus], syphilis and other infectious agents has greatly enhanced blood safety,” said the department’s official notice, as excerpted by The Hill. “As a result, questions have been raised about the need to continue an indefinite deferral of all MSM [men who have sex with men] and whether there could be blood donation by MSM who may not be at increased risk.”
Te department added that besides the advanced testing, studies have found a very low risk of infection via blood transfusions, as low as one in one million transfusions for HIV and one in 280,000 for Hepatitis B.
HHS is now asking for feedback from the public as to how to set up such a program. Comments opened up on Tuesday, March 13 and will remain open for a 90-day period. The notice and instructions for submitting comments can be found here.