Gay and Bisexual Men are Now Considered Safe Blood Donors According to FDA

 

The ban on blood donation by gay and bisexual men has been lifted as announced last Tuesday by the Food and Drug Administration. The ban on men who have had sex with a man in the last year, nonetheless, remains. The agency said that this is necessary to ensure that the blood supply stays safe. This didn’t sit well with rights groups who were aiming for a complete lifting of the ban.

The ban was put in place by the FDA in 1983 at the height of AIDS epidemic when knowledge was still hazy about the human immunodeficiency virus, which produces the disease, and no tests were quick enough to determine who were infected by it. HIV testing was slow and was not as sophisticated as it is now. Today, the infection can be detected in nine days or less.

The technology and knowledge about HIV has since been developed. The FDA has recognized this, leading to the lifting of the ban while keeping in place the restrictions on blood donations by men who have happened to have same sex contact within a year.

The restrictions imposed by the FDA on blood donation by and large were subject to a wide margin of error. The restrictions included people who had been to places where malaria is very prevalent despite not having symptoms such as chills and fever after 40 days. Also included in the ban were heterosexuals who had sexual intercourse with prostitutes or individuals who used drugs by injection.

In written remarks, the agency said it was keeping the 12-month ban because “compelling scientific evidence is not available at this time to support a change to a deferral period less than one year while still ensuring the safety of the blood supply.”

The 12-month ban stays since “compelling scientific evidence is not available at this time to support a change to a deferral period less than one year while still ensuring the safety of the blood supply,” the agency explained.

The policy change puts the United States on par with several European nations, including Btitain, which also adopted their lifetime ban with respect to the 12-month restriction adopted in 2011.

“This is a major victory for gay civil rights,” said I. Glenn Cohen, a law professor at Harvard who specializes in bioethics and health. “We’re leaving behind the old view that every gay man is a potential infection source.” He said, however, that the policy was “still not rational enough.”

The comprehensive ban had no modern scientific basis and was responsible for discrediting gay men all these years, painting them as a source of danger to the health of the entire nation, according to men’s health advocates. They continued that the lifting of the ban was long overdue. The shift in the health policy has put it in accordance with other legal and political rights for gay Americans, such as allowing gay people to get married and to be accepted in the military service.

This is a major victory for gay civil rights,” said I. Glenn Cohen, a law professor at Harvard who specializes in bioethics and health. “We’re leaving behind the old view that every gay man is a potential infection source.” He said, however, that the policy was “still not rational enough.”

The change is too incremental, argued some rights groups. Keeping the 12-month ban is eliminating sexually active gay or bisexual man from donating which comprise fifty percent of the population of would be donors. This will also be a source of continued difficult condition for gay and bisexual men.

 

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