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FDA moves to ease restrictions on gay men donating blood

By Cara Murez and Robin Foster

Health Day Journalists

THURSDAY, Dec. 1, 2022 (HealthDay News) — U.S. Food & Drug Administration policies that have limited blood donations from men who have sex with men may soon be easing.

Currently, FDA policy does not allow blood donation from men who have had sex with other men within the past three months. That’s already a shorter timeframe than in the past, when the agency required a one-year gap.

The agency is now considering moving to questionnaires that focus on individual risk, rather than general limitations, CNN reported.

“The FDA remains committed to bringing together the scientific evidence related to alternative donor deferral policies that maintain a high level of blood safety,” the agency said in a statement released Wednesday. “We expect to release an updated draft guidance in the coming months.”

The information gathered through a donor eligibility questionnaire and blood monitoring “will likely support a policy shift to individual risk-based donor screening questions to reduce the risk of HIV transmission,” the agency added, CNN reported.

The FDA changed these guidelines in 2020 as the need for blood donations increased during the pandemic, CNN reported.

“While today’s reports of an overdue FDA move are an important milestone, our community and leading medical experts will continue to advocate for the FDA to lift all restrictions against qualified LGBTQ blood donor candidates. “said Sarah Kate Ellis, CEO and President of GLAAD. , an LGBTQ media advocacy organization, said in a statement.

Other countries have already taken similar measures: since 2020, men in a long-term relationship with another man are allowed to donate blood in the UK, although other men who have sex with men must still wait three months to donate blood.

A the wall street journal Wednesday’s report cited sources familiar with the FDA plan, saying men who are in monogamous relationships with other men would be allowed to donate blood. Those who had a new sexual partner and had anal intercourse within the last three months would not be allowed to donate, CNN reported.

“As LGBTQ leaders and medical experts have been saying for years: bans and restrictions on gay and bisexual men’s blood donations are rooted in stigma, not science,” Ellis said.

Medical and blood donation organizations have expressed support for the plan.

“WADA [American Medical Association] tirelessly advocates for the elimination of public policies that are inconsistent with scientific evidence and ethical best practices, which is why we have urged the FDA to use rational, science-based deferment periods for blood donation, of corneas and other tissues that are applied fairly and consistently to donors based on their individual risk,” said WADA President Dr. Jack Resneck Jr. CNN.

The American Red Cross said Wednesday that it “believes that eligibility for blood donation should not be determined by methods based on sexual orientation and is committed to working with partners to achieve this goal.”

The Red Cross added that it participated in the FDA-funded ADVANCE study to determine whether a questionnaire assessing individual risk in gay and bisexual donors could replace a comprehensive time-based policy.

More information

The US Department of Health and Human Services has more on donating blood.

THE SOURCE: CNN; statements, November 30, 2022, GLAAD, American Red Cross

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