One-year ban for gay men to donate blood—tell the FDA what you think
Men who have sex with men are allowed to donate blood—as long as they haven’t had sex for a year or more. This recommendation, made by the FDA in 2015, was seen as an improvement over the previously enforced lifetime ban on blood donations by gay men, but is still unfair according to many experts since it focuses on identity rather than actual risk.
The current ban excludes low-risk men who are in exclusive relationships with HIV-negative partners, use condoms consistently, take PrEP, or rely on treatment as prevention (TasP) to prevent HIV.
“The removal of this ban has been an important touchstone for many members of the gay community, because the ban represents the kind of irrational fear and homophobia that predominated in the early days of the HIV/AIDS epidemic,” explained Ernest Hopkins, director of legislative affairs at San Francisco AIDS Foundation, to BETA.
Now, the FDA is seeking public comment on the agency’s blood donor deferral recommendations for reducing the risk for HIV transmission, with the possibility of changes to the ban in the future. Comments are due by November 23, 2016.
People may submit comments, “supported by scientific evidence such as data from research,” that may include recommendations for moving from time-based deferrals to individual risk assessments.