US: FDA recommends end to ban on gay men donating blood

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The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recommended that the ban on gay and bisexual men donating blood “should end”.

In the US, men who have sex with men have been banned from donating blood since the mid 1980s, during the AIDS epidemic. Currently, men who have had sex with men any time since 1977 are banned from donating blood.

The US will be brought in line with countries such as the UK, where men who have had sex with men in the past twelve months will still be banned.

The FDA statement said new guidelines will be drafted in the new year, and then a consultation will follow.

The long-standing ban has been criticised by campaigners who say it perpetuates negative stereotypes about gay and bisexual men, and that it is not backed up by science.

“Over the past several years, in collaboration with other government agencies, the FDA has carefully examined and considered the available scientific evidence relevant to its blood donor deferral policy,” the statement read.

“The agency will take the necessary steps to recommend a change to the blood donor deferral period for men who have sex with men from indefinite deferral to one year since the last sexual contact.”

While the relaxation of the ban on gay and bisexual men donating blood will be celebrated, some continue to argue that the ban should be totally lifted.

British Tory MP Michael Fabricant is currently campaigning to have the 12-month rule lifted from UK blood donation for gay and bisexual men.