US moves toward dropping lifetime ban on gay blood donations

WASHINGTON (AP/WATE) – Federal health officials are recommending an end to the nation’s lifetime ban on blood donations from gay and bisexual men, a 31-year-old policy that many medical groups and gay activists say is no longer justified.

The Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday it favors replacing the blanket ban with a new policy barring donations from men who have had gay sex in the previous year. That policy puts the U.S. in-line with other countries including Australia, Japan and the U.K.

Statement from Medic Regional Blood Center in Knoxville: “In order to continue providing 28 area hospitals with lifesaving blood products, MEDIC is required by law to follow all regulations set forth by the FDA. We value any effort which seeks to increase the community’s blood supply while maintaining the integrity of its safety. MEDIC is a member of America’s Blood Center’s (ABC) which comprises more than 600 donor centers and is accredited by AABB, the professional organization for blood banks and transfusion services. For years, the ABC and AABB have encouraged the FDA to reevaluate its deferral criteria. Moving forward, we will continue to follow any change in regulations set forth by the FDA.”

The lifetime ban dates from the early years of the AIDS crisis and was intended to protect the blood supply from what was a then little-understood disease. But many medical groups, including the American Medical Association, say the policy is no longer supported by science, given advances in HIV testing.

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