The Biden administration is eliminating a long-standing rule prohibiting gay and bisexual men who are sexually active from donating blood, a ban introduced during the AIDS crisis in 1985 to prevent the spreading of infection.
FDA’s Blood Rules Go ‘Gender-Inclusive’
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced at the end of last week that it overruled the restriction and proposed new draft guidelines on who could donate blood.
The FDA policy shift on blood donating marks a “win for LGBTQIA+ rights” groups who have been protesting against the ban for decades, calling it “discriminatory,” The New York Post reported.
The FDA made it clear its new blood donation guidelines no longer “single out” people for their “gender and sexual identities.”
Instead, they deal with all people’s “sexual behaviors” and assess the risk of spreading HIV and AIDS on the basis of “sexual practices.”
The statement put out by the FDA declared its new draft rules use “gender-inclusive” questions to seek to decrease the threat of “transfusion-transmitted HIV.”
The new guidelines stipulate that people in monogamous relationships – regardless of whether they are heterosexual, bisexual, or homosexual – would be “eligible” to give blood through, which is described as “an act of public service.”
The rules change means many gay and bisexual men will be able to donate blood for the first time since the prohibition was adopted in 1985.
The FDA statement also includes comments by its commissioner, Robert Califf, who emphasized the proposed new guidelines would help assess risk individually for every blood donor and not depending on “gender or sexual orientation.”
He also stressed the need to guarantee an “adequate supply” of blood in the US.
The FDA is proposing allowing blood donations from monogamous gay and bi men, relaxing policy restrictions widely criticized as discriminatory that date back to the 1980s AIDS epidemic.https://t.co/7RpS3t3xu1
— NPR (@NPR) January 27, 2023
Breaking news: Monogamous gay and bisexual men will be allowed to donate blood under planned FDA guidance, easing decades-long restrictions. New rules will focus on sexual behaviors, regardless of gender, that pose a higher risk of transmitting HIV.https://t.co/hfcoasDGld
— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) January 26, 2023
Gay and bisexual men will now be allowed to donate blood under new FDA rules, easing decades-long restrictions. pic.twitter.com/WV83zOQJ1P
— SAY CHEESE! 👄🧀 (@SaycheeseDGTL) January 27, 2023
Woman Who Have Anal Sex Get Targeted
In line with the changes on the eligibility of gay and bisexual men, the FDA proposal, for the first, time targets women with restrictions on donating blood – it seeks to identify those women who practice anal sex.
The new blood donation assessment in the US will ask potential donors if they have had new sexual partners or engaged in anal sex over the preceding three months. Those who haven’t would be able to donate blood.
However, those who have done either of the two would be asked to wait for three months before giving blood.
The original 1985 rule banning gay men from donating blood was altered in 2015 to allow them to do it if they had abstained from anal sex for at least one year. The UK and Canada also lifted gay men’s blood donation bans in recent years.
The report quotes Claudia Cohn, the chief medical officer of the “Association for the Advancement of Blood and Biotherapies,” as saying it was essential not to “exclude” any groups of blood donors that could be “perfectly safe.”
Tony Morrison from the “Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation” welcomed the FDA shift, saying the previous “discriminatory” rules made it seems as though HIV was a “gay disease,” whereas, in his words,” it “very much” isn’t.
FDA to lift ban on blood donation for gay, bisexual men: report https://t.co/KS0eIaYSrd pic.twitter.com/5Er3Z0Wc83
— New York Post (@nypost) January 27, 2023
"FDA to ease blood donation ban on gay men, allow monogamous to give."
Just exactly how will the government verify that gay and bisexual men are in "monogamous relationships"?
It can't. And so the blood supply will be put at risk.https://t.co/BXRf6uogoE pic.twitter.com/wKQ1vf4SiN
— Steve Milloy (@JunkScience) January 27, 2023
This article appeared in Mainstpress and has been published here with permission.