Currently the gay blood ban means that homosexual men are barred from donating blood unless they refrain from sexual intercourse for at least a year. On Thursday, however, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said it plans to open a public comment period on the ban.
A seven-page document shows that the federal agency is willing to start a discussion over the risks of gay and bisexual men donating blood. The ban’s main reasoning was to prevent HIV infection to be transmitted to blood transfusion recipients.
The FDA announced that the public now has the opportunity to submit relevant information on the gay blood donation ban which may persuade authorities to lift the ban. The agency wrote that any “interested persons” can submit arguments backed by scientific facts showing that gay men can safely donate blood.
Last year, the FDA eased the donation ban requesting bisexual and homosexual men not to have sex with other men for at least a year before donating blood. Under a decades-old federal ban, gay men had been barred from donating blood for life.
Yet, although last year’s move was a clear victory for the LGBT community, LGBT advocates were still not content. They argued that the ban is still there. LGBT now wants to replace the ban with a system that would assess HIV risk in each particular case.
On Thursday, the FDA challenged gay advocates to clarify their newly proposed system by providing solutions to six issues. And the FDA wants to know:
- what questions could enable doctors detect donors with a risk of transmitting HIV.
- whether there are “specific questions” to ask a bi- or homosexual man that could help health providers assess his risk of contracting HIV up to 4 weeks prior to the donation.
- how “explicit” the questions on sexual activity should be in order not to offend some donors or prevent them from being truthful.
- how short the deferral period for donors with a high risk should be (on this issue, the FDA requests scientific evidence to back any proposition)
- what “changes” blood collecting centers should make to ensure a proper HIV risk assessment
- how a study on the LGBT-proposed system should be best designed.
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