The FDA According to the New York Times, the country has eased much of its long-standing ban on gay and bisexual men donating blood.
Gay and bisexual men – but only those in monogamous relationships – can now donate blood in the United States without having to give up sex.
The FDA is ending the ban on gay and bisexual men donating blood, but some restrictions still apply
Instead, the FDA will now require all potential donors to fill out a form with details of their recent sexual history, the Times reports. This applies regardless of sexual orientation, sex or gender.
These questions will include whether a person has had anal sex in the past three months and whether they have had sex with new or multiple partners in the same period.
However, several prohibitions remain in place for people who have new or multiple sexual partners or have engaged in anal sex in the past three months. The ban also extends to those prescribed oral PrEP to prevent HIV infection.
Meanwhile, blood supply shortages and new donations have prompted the FDA to revise its guidelines, in what critics say is discriminatory.
The FDA’s latest move is to expand donor availability after donations plummeted due to the COVID-19 pandemic
Blood donations fell during and after the pandemic because there were fewer blood drives in schools and offices.
The FDA said the new screening policy adjustments remain in line with regulations in the UK and Canada.
This is the FDA’s latest move to expand donor eligibility and increase donation numbers. The move also comes amid widespread pressure from LGBTQ groups, who say the ban is discriminatory.
Meanwhile, those who previously tested positive for HIV are still unable to donate blood. Anyone who takes medication for HIV prevention through sexual contact remains blocked for up to three months after the last dose.
The federal agency reports that certain HIV medications (PrEP) can often delay detection of the virus on screening tests.
Updated blood donation guidelines were finalized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Thursday, easing restrictions on men having sex with men. pic.twitter.com/AWWjCIKC6p
— CGTN America (@cgtnamerica) May 11, 2023
A history of blood donation restrictions for gay and bisexual men, current screening issues
Each potential blood donor must answer questions about their sex history, drug use (injectable medications), new tattoos, and new piercings.
The blood is then tested for HIV, hepatitis C, syphilis and other infectious diseases before being eligible for donation, according to the Times.
It’s just the FDA’s latest move to adapt to the new societal mores of recent years.
In 2015, the FDA lifted a lifetime ban on men having sex with men before requiring a year’s abstinence, according to NPR.
A few years later, the federal agency shortened the abstinence period from 12 months to three months.
The decline in donations during the COVID-19 pandemic was primarily the trigger for the reduction in abstinence periods.
Years later, regulators said there had still been no negative impact on the blood supply due to the coronavirus.
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