The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has announced today that they would lift the moratorium on gay men donating blood that has been in place for 30 years, from around the time of the early AIDs era. Great news, right? Welcome to the 21st century!
There’s just on small catch. That only applies to gay men who haven’t had sex in the past year.
As part of today’s finalized blood donor deferral guidance, the FDA is changing its recommendation that men who have sex with men (MSM) be indefinitely deferred – a policy that has been in place for approximately 30 years – to 12 months since the last sexual contact with another man. These updated recommendations better align the deferral period for MSM with the deferral period for other men and women at increased risk for HIV infection – such as those who had a recent blood transfusion or those who have been accidentally exposed to the blood of another individual. The FDA examined a variety of recent studies, epidemiologic data, and shared experiences from other countries that have made recent MSM deferral policy changes.
“Ultimately, the 12-month deferral window is supported by the best available scientific evidence, at this point in time, relevant to the U.S. population. We will continue to actively conduct research in this area and further revise our policies as new data emerge,” Peter Marks, deputy director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research explained.
Similar 12 month waiting periods have proven successful at reducing the rate of HIV transmission in the UK and Australia.