FDA says gay men can donate blood, but only after 12 months of no sex

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 133 views 

The Food and Drug Administration announced new guidance Monday (Dec. 21) recommending that gay men can now donate blood, but only if they have not had sexual contact with another man in the past 12 months.

In a press release issued Monday, the FDA said it was changing a policy that had been in effect for about 30 years. It said it will continue to evaluate its policies as new scientific information is learned. The FDA said HIV transmissions coming from blood transfusions have fallen from 1 in 2,500 to 1 in 1.47 million. It credited use of donor education materials, questions asked of donors, and advances in donor testing.

The FDA said the new recommendations are more consistent with deferral periods for other groups at increased risk of contracting HIV. It said it examined several alternatives.

“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,” said Dr. Peter Marks, deputy director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research. “We will continue to actively conduct research in this area and further revise our policies as new data emerge.”

The United Kingdom, Australia, and other countries defer blood donations from gay men for 12 months. Australia evaluated more than 8 million units of donated blood and found no change in risk to the blood supply, the release said.

FDA’s guidance also recommends that blood donation establishments change their educational materials and questionnaires.

David Stacy, government affairs director for the LGBT advocacy group Human Rights Campaign, said on the HRC’s website, “While it’s a step in the right direction toward an ideal policy that reflects the best scientific research, it still falls far short of a fully acceptable solution because it continues to stigmatize gay and bisexual men. It simply cannot be justified in light of current scientific research and updated blood screening technology.”