Blood donation policies may shift away from restrictions based on sexual orientation, FDA says

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Saturday, December 3, 2022
FDA considers changing blood donation policies
The FDA is conducting research that likely supports revising or lifting the strict rules in place on blood donations from gay and bisexual men.

The FDA says it is planning to transition to a screening system that focuses on each person's HIV risk, rather than a blanket sexual orientation.

The agency's current blood donation policy places restrictions on blood donations from sexually active gay and bisexual men. They must wait three months from their most recent sexual contact before being considered eligible to donate blood.

The policy in place stems from HIV and AIDS crisis, which primarily affected gay and bisexual men when it began. In the epidemic's earlier days, the FDA issued a lifetime ban on blood donations.

In a statement to ABC News, the FDA says the evidence analyzed from multiple sources will "likely support a policy transition", although there is no specific timeline for the proposed changes.

Critics of the current blood donation policy say it is outdated and unfairly ostracizes one group of people. Officials say heterosexual people make up about one-fifth of new HIV diagnosis.

Blood banks now test all blood samples for infectious diseases before the samples are entered into the donation system.

It is not clear whether the FDA's ultimate goal is to relax the rules specific to gay and bisexual men, or if the rules will be lifted entirely, but it would be a large change either way.