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FDA to Revisit Gay Blood Donations Policy

March 15, 2010

On Friday, the Food and Drug Administration announced a re-evaluation of its policy banning blood donations by any man who has had sex with another man since 1977. FDA's total ban on donations by these individuals dates back to 1983, when it was enacted to prevent HIV transmission through the nation's blood supply.

The Health and Human Services Department's blood safety committee will evaluate the issue at a meeting in June, FDA said in a statement. FDA said it "has been actively engaged in re-examining the issue of blood donor deferral for men who have had sex with other men, taking into account the current body of scientific information, and we are considering the possibility of pursuing alternative strategies that maintain blood safety."

In recent years, the American Red Cross, American Association of Blood Banks, and America's Blood Centers have recommended loosening the restrictions to allow blood donations by men who have sex with men (MSM) who have been sexually abstinent for one year. The American Medical Association has proposed a five-year waiting period.

Eighteen senators, led by John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), recently sent a letter calling on FDA to revise the donor ban, deeming it "outdated, medically and scientifically unsound." Improved testing technologies can support a looser restriction on donations by MSM without threatening the blood supply, they argued.

Changes to the deferral policy have been opposed by hemophilia patient groups. Before the ban, about 10,000 hemophiliacs became HIV-infected through blood products, and thousands of those patients subsequently died.

Back to other news for March 2010

Excerpted from:
Los Angeles Times
03.13.2010; Andrew Zajac

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