Since 1983, men who have had sex with other men have been barred from donating blood by the Food and Drug Administration, thanks to an archaic and scientifically disproven fear of higher risk of HIV infection. That could soon change.
In a statement sent out on Tuesday, FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg said that the administration plans on proposing a new one-year deferral period, which, if all proceeds as planned, will allow gay men to donate blood for the first time in three decades:
…the FDA has carefully examined and considered the available scientific evidence relevant to its blood donor deferral policy for men who have sex with men, including the results of several recently completed scientific studies and recent epidemiologic data. Following this review, and taking into account the recommendations of advisory committees to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the FDA, the agency will take the necessary steps to recommend a change to the blood donor deferral period for men who have sex with men from indefinite deferral to one year since the last sexual contact.
Here’s the part of the medical history questionnaire the FDA is referring to:
The proposal, however, requires gay men to be celibate for a year. Speaking with Bloomberg, the advocacy group Gay Men’s Health Crisis said the one-year waiting period is “offensive and harmful” to perpetuating gay stereotypes.
The FDA says it intends to issue “a draft guidance recommending this proposed” in 2015, though a specific timeline has not been set.