US: Department of Health asked by federal working group to look at removing lifetime gay blood ban

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

A US federal working group on blood-donor policies has asked the Department of Health and Human Services to develop a new plan to possibly allow blood donations from gay and bisexual men.

The panel did not consider changing the current lifetime ban on blood donations for men who have sex with men (MSM).

Kim Miller, a policy analyst with the HIV Medical Association believe that a change in MSM policy is “long overdue”.

Similarly, in August, more than 80 US lawmakers asked the Obama administration to stop the current ban preventing MSM from giving blood, proclaiming it as outdated as “the scientific community’s understanding of the [HIV/AIDS] virus has changed dramatically.”  

In the previous year, the American Medical Association (AMA) voted to reject the US federal blanket ban.

In July 2011, the HHS promised to look at the lifetime blood donation ban again stating that they planned “to stay focused on the end game – a safe blood supply and an end to this discriminatory ban”

The HHS requested new research on blood donation, which will be released in 2014.

In September 2011, England, Wales and Scotland introduced a one-year deferral for gay and bisexual men who wish to donate blood.

However, this was dependent on not having sex with men for 12 months.

In May, Canada also lifted the lifetime ban for gay men donating blood providing that they remained celibate for 5 years.

A lifetime ban for gay blood donation in Northern Ireland still exists.