(HealthDay News) — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Thursday finalized the elimination of certain restrictions that prevented healthy gay and bisexual men from donating blood.
Instead of requiring men who have sex with men or the women who have sex with them to abstain for sexual contact for three months, the FDA has created an individual risk assessment for all donors. These questions are meant to reduce the risk for transfusion-transmitted HIV.
“The FDA has worked diligently to evaluate our policies and ensure we had the scientific evidence to support individual risk assessment for donor eligibility while maintaining appropriate safeguards to protect recipients of blood products. The implementation of these recommendations will represent a significant milestone for the agency and the LGBTQI+ community,” Peter Marks, M.D., director of the FDA Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, said in an agency news release. “The FDA is committed to working closely with the blood collection industry to help ensure timely implementation of the new recommendations, and we will continue to monitor the safety of the blood supply once this individual risk-based approach is in place.”
These policies are in alignment with what already happens in some other countries, including the United Kingdom and Canada, according to the FDA.
Under the new policy, all prospective donors who report having a new sexual partner, more than one sexual partner in the past three months, or anal sex in the past three months will be deferred. People taking medications to treat or prevent HIV infection, including antiretroviral therapy, preexposure prophylaxis, and postexposure prophylaxis, will also be deferred. These medications, though safe, may give false-negative results on screening tests.