May 26, 2018 | Updated: 09:54 AM EDT

FDA Lifts Blood Ban Among Gay And Bisexual Men

Dec 22, 2015 08:35 PM EST

After three decades, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has finally lifted the policy that prohibits gay men from blood donation. However, gay advocates think the solution falls short as the ban, in the first place, was of no medical or scientific basis.

In a press release, FDA's new amendment now permits gay or bisexual men to donate blood granting they have restrained from any sexual activities in the last 12 months. Gay advocates are frustrated of the ruling.

"This new policy prevents men from donating life-saving blood based solely on their sexual orientation rather than actual risk to the blood supply," David Stacy, director of government affairs at the Washington-based Human Rights Campaign (HRC), said. Even though he admits this was a good step towards a fitting regulation, it still falls short of an admissible resolution. He further points out that it still creates a stigma. Because of this, he is joined with gay rights proponents condemning the latest ruling.

Meanwhile, Christopher Johnson of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation in Los Angeles said that with the advent of technology in detecting HIV, the time for basing blood donation regulation from fear rather than science has come to pass. "Regulations that prohibit a whole class of people from donating blood when the need is so great should definitely be revised," he added.

According to HRC, since 2006, various organizations such as The American Red Cross and American Association of Blood Banks have claimed that the blood ban is of no basis. However, under the new regulation, people who are not allowed to donate blood are based on some factors including those who tested positive for HIV and those who traded sex for money or drugs.

In defense, FDA authority Ms. Goodin stated that "The deferral policy is a behavior-based policy, not one based upon sexual orientation." She claimed that research reveals that HIV prevalence with those having a history to same sex contact was 62-fold higher, while a 2.3-fold for those who have history of multiple sex partners of the opposite sex. "We have taken great care to ensure this policy revision is backed by sound science and continues to protect our blood supply," FDA's acting commissioner Stephen Ostroff said.

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