FDA's Statement on Gay Men's Blood Donations Is a Good First Step

Someone donating blood.
Someone donating blood.

Update: The FDA put out a proposed policy for comments about this on May 12. The comment period is for 60 days.

GREAT NECK, NY – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s statement that gay men who have not had sex with another man for a year can donate their blood is a good first step, a New York immunologist says.

“In the past, any man who reported ever having sex with another man was prevented from ever donating blood,” explains David Rosenthal, DO, medical director of the Center for Young Adult, Adolescent and Pediatric HIV. “This previous policy was not based on scientific risk of transmitting HIV or sexually transmitted diseases via the blood supply… Donating blood saves lives; thus the same consistent safeguards to the blood supply should be placed on all potential blood donors.  Certain actions such as having multiple sexual partners, anal receptive sex, anonymous sex, sex with prostitutes, using intravenous drugs and travel to certain countries all increase the chance of HIV transmission and risk to the blood supply. But, these risk factors do not convey life-long risk.”

Since the aforementioned risks do not last for a person’s whole life, perhaps there will be further changes to this policy in the future.

“This proposed new FDA guideline is a step in the right direction to allow more people to safely donate blood,” Dr. Rosenthal says. “In the future, I am hopeful that an evidence based-approach will continue to develop to allow for screening of blood donors using methods that help us to ensure the safety of the blood supply, while also only preventing those from donating blood that truly pose a potential risk to the blood supply.”

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