US drops lifetime ban on gay and bisexual men donating blood

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

Health officials in the US will lift the country’s lifetime ban on blood donations from men who have sex with men.

However a 12 month deferral period will take the place of the lifetime ban.

This will bring the US in line with countries like the UK and Australia, where gay and bisexual men can donate blood if they have not had sex in the past twelve months.

The lifetime ban was brought in 32-years-ago, amid the AIDS crisis.

After last year recommending that the ban be lifted, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), said on Monday that the lifetime ban would be lifted.

The FDA said the change was “backed by sound science and continues to protect our blood supply.”

As well as MSM, those with haemophilia and other conditions relating to clotting, will also be banned from donating blood.

The FDA said the ban on those with haemophilia was based on risk from large needles.

As well as the change in policy, the agency said it would put in place a safety monitoring system, which will dictate future FDA blood donor policies.

“Ultimately, the 12-month deferral window is supported by the best available scientific evidence, at this point in time, relevant to the US population,” deputy director of the FDA’s biologics division said in a statement.

“These published studies document no change in risk to the blood supply with use of the 12-month deferral,” the FDA said.

“Similar data are not available for shorter deferral intervals.”

The National Gay Blood Drive, released a statement, reading: “We are pleased to see the FDA has issued the final guidance and we support this initial policy change that will allow eligible gay and bisexual men to donate for the first time in 32 years.

“However, the revised policy is still discriminatory. While many gay and bisexual men will be eligible to donate their blood and help save lives under this 12 month deferral, countless more will continue to be banned solely on the basis of their sexual orientation and without medical or scientific reasoning.”
“So today we begin the final push to eliminate discrimination based on sexual orientation from the blood donation process altogether,” said Gay Blood Drive Founder and Director, Ryan James Yezak.
“We strongly encourage the FDA to move toward a deferral based upon individual risk assessment. We will commence organizing the National Gay Blood Drive immediately in conjunction with the implementation of the revised MSM blood donor policy.”