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Feds Officially Ease Blood Donation Ban for Gay Men

The federal government has officially relaxed the blood donation ban for gay men on Monday.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released its final rules on the matter, noting that gay men would be allowed to donate blood if they have been celibate for one year.

“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,” Dr. Peter Marks, deputy director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, wrote in a statement Monday.

The Hill reports:

The move partially rolls back a 1983 ban that has since been described as medically unwarranted. Efforts to eliminate that ban, which have crawled forward under the Obama administration, mark the biggest step in a decades-old debate on whether gay and bisexual men, who are at a higher risk for HIV/AIDS, can safely donate blood.

A leading HIV/AIDS advocacy group, the Gay Men’s Health Crisis, has said the government’s decision to keep the one-year ban — which they say is de facto a lifetime ban, remains “offensive and harmful.”

Lawmakers like Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) and Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), longtime advocates for the policy change, have accused the FDA of singling out gay men without justification.

“A time-based deferral focusing solely on men who have sex with men is still discriminatory and fails to exclude donors based on actual risk factors,” Quigley wrote in a statement last winter when the draft rules were issued.

Photo credit: Telegraph.

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