In a setback, today, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Advisory Committee on Blood Safety and Availability, after a two-day meeting, voted to recommend that the lifetime blood donation deferral policy for gay and bisexual men not be changed, citing insufficient scientific data to support any revision. However, the Committee did acknowledge that the current policy is imperfect and recommended additional research to support a policy that would allow low-risk gay and bisexual men to donate. The Committee's recommendations will now be considered by the Assistant Secretary for Health.
More information on the Committee and the meeting's agenda is available at the Committee's website
Under a federal rule adopted in 1983, any man who has had sex with another man since 1977, even once, is banned for life from donating blood. Blood donation policy is set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and agencies that collect blood donations, such as the American Red Cross, are bound by it. More background about the policy and its history is available here.
For many years, HRC has urged FDA to revise this policy, formulated during the height of the AIDS crisis, which does not reflect the most up-to-date understanding of HIV transmission and unnecessarily stigmatizes gay and bisexual men and turns away healthy potential donors. HRC included lifting the blood donation ban [pdf] as part of its Blueprint for Positive Change, a series of policy recommendations to the Obama administration.
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