FDA Ends Ban on Blood Donations From Gay and Bisexual Men

The Food and Drug Administration announced Thursday. officially ended a broad ban by the agency Blood donation by gay and bisexual men has been a longstanding policy that has been accused of being discriminatory.

Instead, the FDA is finalizing guidance that includes a questionnaire for all donors to learn about recent sexual activity. More targeted questions focus on whether someone has had new or multiple sex partners or anal sex within the past three months.

Potential donors who have had recent sexual intercourse based on these screening criteria will be rejected.

The revised policy would also ban blood donations from people taking oral PrEP to prevent HIV infection, but officials said the restrictions were designed to avoid false-negative blood test results. .

In the revised policy, FDA took cues from Canada and the UK, which have taken similar approaches. U.S. officials said they had been working on the change for months and looked at data from other countries and from U.S. studies examining the method.

Blood donations are desperately needed. It decreased during and after the pandemic due to reduced blood donation activity in schools and offices.

Older rules were far more restrictive in excluding gay and bisexual men. This update will enable blood donation companies to use more evidence-based methods to maximize blood donations while reducing the risk of HIV infection.

“The transition to individual donor evaluation prioritizes the safety of America’s blood supply while treating all donors with fairness and respect,” said the Independent, which supplies 60 percent of the blood supply. said Kate Frye, CEO of America’s Blood Center, which represents the blood centers in the United States. national donations.

LGBTQ advocacy group GLAAD hailed the change as an end to a “dark and discriminatory past rooted in fear and homophobia”. But the group criticized the FDA’s decision to deny donors taking PrEP drugs, saying the move would create an “unnecessary stigma.”

“The biases embedded in this policy can actually cost lives,” GLAAD said in a statement Thursday.

The agency said PrEP drugs were effective in reducing the spread of HIV through sexual contact, but warned that blood transfusions could increase the risk of transmission.

“While HIV cannot be transmitted sexually by individuals with undetectable viral levels, this is because blood transfusions are given intravenously and involve large amounts of blood compared to exposure through sexual contact. does not apply to transfusion transmission of HIV,” the FDA said. said in a news release on Thursday.

Blood donation company Vitalent said it would adopt the agency’s revised screening rules by updating its donor history questionnaire, computer systems, and training staff.

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