WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- The FDA is reportedly set to ease blood donation restrictions on men who have sex with men.
- According to The Washington Post, the agency is set to announce changes in the coming days.
- Gay and bisexual men who are in monogamous relationships will soon be able to give blood.
The Food and Drug Administration is set to relax blood donation restrictions for gay and bisexual men after years of barring many of them from giving blood, The Washington Post reported Thursday.
An unnamed official familiar with the matter told the outlet that queer men in monogamous relationships will soon be able to donate blood, even if they haven’t abstained from sex for several months, ending a decades-long policy born of the AIDS crisis.
The anticipated easing comes as blood banks and LGBT organizations have pushed for a more equal policy in recent years, with the American Medical Association calling the ban “discriminatory” in January 2022.
The anonymous source told The Post the new limitations are meant to keep the blood supply free of HIV by focusing more stringently on sexual behavior as opposed to a person’s gender or orientation.
The FDA eased restrictions in April 2020, soon after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, allowing men who have sex with men to donate blood as long as they had abstained from sex with other men for three months, citing an “urgent and immediate need for blood.” The 2020 update overrode a 2015 amendment that limited donations to men who hadn’t had sex with a man for a year.
Men who are now eligible to donate blood will likely have to wait until the end of 2023 to do so, according to The Post, as the FDA makes final changes after a period of public comment.
Despite media reports on the likely changes, some LGBT advocates are waiting to celebrate until they see the new guidance themselves.
Cole Williams, 22, a nursing and political science student at the University of Cincinnati and the founder of Pride and Plasma, said he would welcome any decreases in discriminatory policies but hoped changes would focus on more individualized risks, including the type of sex in which donors are engaging instead of a blanket adjustment to the existing gendered policy.
“Any step forward with less restrictive policies is a win,” he said. “But I don’t expect the policy will be completely gone away.”
“HIV is not a disease that only targets the queer community and queer men. Anyone can have it,” Williams added. “So saying a heterosexual individual is completely free from the risk while all queer people are subject to high risk, that’s just not accurate science.”
Source: The Washington Post