The FDA issued new deferral guidelines for gay and bisexual men on December 21st. The new guideline set lifts a 30 year ban on gay and bisexual men from donating blood.
According to the FDA the final guideline set has been created in order to ensure a continuation of the safety procedures relating to the blood supply and a reduced risk of HIV transmission through blood, while taking into consideration the latest scientific data available.
The new FDA deferral guidelines have been met with criticism from gay and bisexual men rights advocates. While the new guidelines set does lift the 30-year-long ban, it still requires that a gay or bisexual man abstains from sexual contact for one year before he can donate blood. Other categories at risk of HIV infection are also mentioned in the deferral guidelines. According to the FDA press release:
“The FDA’s responsibility is to maintain a high level of blood product safety for people whose lives depend on it”.
According to the FDA, the safety of the blood supply and scientific data both pinpoint and inform the new deferral guidelines. The policies have been reviewed and updated so as to reflect a modern reality informed by the latest available scientific data. FDA officials declared that the policies will be reviewed constantly to ensure best practices as soon as new data becomes available.
According to the FDA, HIV transmission through blood transfusion has been reduced in time from 1 in 2,500 cases to 1 in 1.47 million cases currently. The new deferral guidelines should ensure that HIV transmission through blood transfusion continues on the downward slope.
Among other changes in the deferral guidelines, the FDA issued new deferral guidelines for gay and bisexual men. Criticized by some advocacy groups, the deferral guidelines for gay and bisexual men are seen as a mere paintover of a three-decade long discriminatory status when it comes to donating blood.
Nonetheless, the deferral guideline for gay and bisexual men reduces the deferral period from indefinite to one year. It is necessary that one year has passed since sexual contact for the gay or bisexual man to be able to donate blood.
The reviewed policy and deferral guidelines also mention other categories of high risk of HIV infection. Among them, men and women alike who underwent a recent blood transfusion also have to wait for one year to donate blood. In addition, if a person has been exposed to the blood of another through any means, the same deferral guidelines apply.
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