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FDA moves to ease rules for blood donations from gay men

The U.S. is transferring to additional ease restrictions on blood donations from gay and bisexual men and different teams that sometimes face increased dangers of HIV.

The Meals and Drug Administration on Friday introduced draft tips that may put off the present three-month abstinence requirement for donations from men who’ve intercourse with men. As a substitute, all potential donors can be screened with a brand new questionnaire that evaluates their particular person dangers for HIV primarily based on sexual habits, latest companions and different components.

If finalized, many gay and bisexual men in monogamous relationships would find a way to donate blood for the primary time in a long time. It’s the most recent transfer by the FDA to broaden donor eligibility, with the potential to increase donations.

“We feel confident that the safety of the blood supply will be maintained,” FDA’s Dr. Peter Marks advised reporters.

Gay rights teams have lengthy opposed blanket restrictions on who may give blood, saying they discriminate towards the LGBTQ neighborhood. Medical societies together with the American Medical Affiliation have additionally stated such exclusions are pointless given advances in know-how to take a look at blood for infectious illnesses.

“Current and former blood donation policies made unfounded assumptions about gay and bisexual men and really entangled individuals’ identity with their likelihood of having HIV,” stated Sarah Warbelow of the Human Rights Marketing campaign, an LGBTQ advocacy group.

The U.S. and lots of different nations began blocking blood donations from gay and bisexual men in the course of the early 1980’s AIDS epidemic, aiming to stop the unfold of HIV by way of the blood provide.

In 2015, the FDA dropped the lifetime ban and changed it with a one-year abstinence requirement. Then in 2020, the company shortened the abstinence period to three months, after donations plummeted in the course of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Regulators stated there was no adverse influence on the blood provide as a outcomes of these adjustments.

The FDA units necessities and procedures for blood banks all through the U.S. All potential donors reply questions on their sexual historical past, injectable drug use and any latest tattoos or piercing, amongst different components that may contribute to the unfold of blood-borne infections. Donated blood is then examined for HIV, hepatitis C, syphilis and different infectious illnesses.

Underneath the brand new proposal, men who’ve intercourse with men might be requested if they’ve had new or a number of companions within the final three months. Those that reply affirmatively to both query and in addition report having anal intercourse can be barred from donating till a later date. The coverage would additionally apply to girls who’ve intercourse with gay or bisexual men.

Anybody who has ever examined constructive for HIV would proceed to be ineligible to donate blood. These taking drugs to stop HIV by way of sexual contact would additionally nonetheless be barred, till three months after their final dose. The FDA famous that the remedy, generally known as PrEP, can delay the detection of the virus in screening checks.

Marks stated the company is prepared to think about additional easing restrictions “but we have to have the science to do that.”

FDA regulators will take public feedback on the proposal for 60 days earlier than starting to finalize the rules.

The proposed coverage mirrors these utilized in Canada and the U.Okay.

LGBTQ teams welcomed the FDA’s announcement however stated the proposal mustn’t exclude individuals utilizing PrEP medicines.

“We must be conscious to not further stigmatize these safe sex practices and uplift individuals taking precautions,” stated Jose Abrigo of Lambda Authorized, which has lengthy pushed to change the FDA coverage.

The FDA primarily based its newest proposal, partly, on a recent study of 1,600 gay and bisexual men. The FDA-funded analysis in contrast the effectiveness of an in depth, personalised questionnaire on sexual habits to the present time-based abstinence rules.

It is going to take a number of months for blood banks to make the adjustments, in accordance to Cliff Numark, an government with Vitalant, a blood heart that participated within the research. The adjustments would require new questionnaires, coaching for employees and updating pc software program.

The Pink Cross stated it helps the FDA adjustments however added that it’s too early to know if they may end in extra blood donations.

Lukas Pietrzak of Washington D.C., stated he eagerly volunteered for the FDA research. He credit emergency blood transfusions with saving his father’s life after a biking accident in 1991.

Pietrzak donated blood in highschool however grew to become ineligible after changing into sexually lively as a gay man.

“Until I fully came out to my friends, I had to skirt around why I never went to blood drives with them,” says Pietrzak, 26, who now works for the federal authorities.

When there are calls for blood donations “now we’re able to be part of that,” Pietrzak stated.


The Related Press Well being and Science Division receives assist from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Science and Academic Media Group. The AP is solely accountable for all content material.

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