At the moment, if you are a gay or bisexual man in the US (or even a woman who has had sex with a bisexual man) you cannot donate blood unless you have abstained for 12 months.
It seems, though, that the US could completely lift the ban on gay blood donations in favour of a case-by-case policy. Yesterday (Tuesday) the FDA asked for thoughts from the public on current policies.
Anyone interested can submit their thoughts, however it must be backed up with scientific evidence.
FDA spokesperson said: “As part of the effort to continue to assess its donor deferral policies, FDA is opening this docket to provide a mechanism for the public to submit additional information regarding potential blood donor deferral policy options.”
Specifically, we invite interested persons to submit to the docket comments supported by scientific evidence regarding possible revisions to FDA’s blood donor deferral policies to reduce the risk of HIV transmission by blood and blood products.”
The current policy of allowing blood donations after a 12 month period of abstinence, while a step forward from an outright ban, was criticised at the time. Many called for a policy based on a case-by-case analysis.
The issue came into public view once more after the Pulse Orlando shooting, as many said that it made it difficult for the victims’ friends and family to donate blood. The potential change of stance from the FDA has been called “encouraging” by critics.
Mike Quigley, Vice-Chair of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus and U.S. Representative, said: “I am encouraged by today’s announcement that the FDA will look into policy solutions in order to move away from the discriminatory time-based deferrals and move closer to individual risk assessment as it relates to blood donor safety screenings. The tragedy at Pulse nightclub in Orlando highlighted the discrimination gay and bisexual men face when attempting to donate blood to those in need.”
“While this potential policy change could have a positive impact on men who have sex with men (MSM) and other marginalised donors, it would also make our blood supply safer. Moving towards an individual risk assessment would provide for a fair, equitable, non-discriminatory blood donation policy.”
If this ends up coming to pass, my fingers are crossed for a similar policy being implemented in the UK.