FDA guidelines favor blood donations from Gays and Bisexuals

FDA guidelines favor blood donations from Gays and Bisexuals

A new policy by the Federal Government that came out this Tuesday, will now allow gay and bisexual men, who were previously debarred from donating blood, to make blood donations, provided they have desisted from sex for at least one year.

This formal announcement follows the draft guidelines brought in by the US Food and Drug Administration, in December last, which were then put up for 60 days, for inviting comments from the public.

The policy calls for a one-year period, referred to as ‘deferral period’ wherein the gay donor should not have engaged in sexual activity. This declaration reverses a three-decade-old ban on donations from gays and bisexuals, the time when the AIDS epidemic swelled massively. The current policy would allow half of the people earlier barred from donating blood, to make blood donations now.

Identical deferral periods have been brought in by other countries as well. Canada has changed its policy to a five-year deferral period, UK has a one-year deferral policy, while South Africa has a six-month deferral policy in place.

The reason why the government has lifted the age-old ban, is positive reports flowing in from other countries. Australia, in 2000, implemented a similar one-year deferral policy and has ever since, not seen an increase in HIV-tainted blood in its entire blood supply. It is this very risk of HIV strains left in the blood, which discourage donations from gays and bisexuals.

However, it has been confirmed that HIV infections can be caught through testing and removed from the blood supply. Also, that only one in every 1.5 million units, out of annually collected 15.7 million units, carries the risk of HIV.

The FDA can also put in place a national blood surveillance system that will help it examine the effect of the policy change and ensure the safety of the blood supply.

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