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US will allow gay and bisexual men in monogamous relationships to donate blood


The measure, which partially lifts a ban in force since the beginning of the AIDS crisis, aims to boost the supply of plasma and derivatives in the country

A man donates blood in Davenport, Iowa, on November 11. Charlie Neibergall (AP)

The federal food and drug agency (FDA) will allow gay and bisexual men in monogamous relationships to donate blood.

The decision represents a clear opening after decades of prohibition that date back to the beginning of the AIDS crisis, in the early eighties, a limitation considered discriminatory by LGTBIQ activist groups.

Gays and bisexuals will be able to donate blood without having to abstain from sexual relations for at least three months, as the agency has prescribed until now.

The measure aims to boost the supply of plasma and blood products in the country.

The new FDA guidelines would mean putting all blood donors through the same questionnaire, regardless of their sexual orientation.

People who have had anal intercourse with a new sexual partner in the last three months will not be able to donate, according to the FDA.

The openness in the evaluation of the suitability of donors will not ignore individual questions based on supposed risky practices, in order to reduce the possibility of HIV transmission by transfusion.

This proposal is in line with current policies in countries such as the United Kingdom and Canada.

In a statement published this Friday, the agency proposes "an individual risk assessment" when donating blood, while committing to safeguard the country's blood supply and guarantee its safety.

As "preliminary recommendations," the new guidelines are based on review of available information, including data from other countries with similar HIV epidemiology, as well as "continued surveillance of the United States blood supply," which is deficient. during the pandemic.

Based on available data, the agency stresses, formulating individual risk-based questions "will not compromise the safety or availability of the blood supply."

The new rules would continue to prohibit blood donations from people who have tested positive for HIV or are taking antiretroviral medication, have a history of drug use or sex workers.

Blood banks would continue to be required to test all samples for HIV and other infectious diseases.

Following the publication of these new guidelines, the agency will be open to public comment for 60 days.

Once reviewed, the FDA will confirm the new policy before applying it to blood banks across the country.

“Maintaining a safe and adequate supply of blood and blood products in the US is paramount to the FDA, and this proposal for individual risk assessment, regardless of [donor's] gender or sexual orientation, will allow us to continue to use the best scientific knowledge to achieve it," said Robert Califf, head of the FDA.

The FDA banned blood donation by gay and bisexual men during the early days of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s. The ban was amended in 2015, adding that gay and bisexual men should refrain from having sexual intercourse for one year before donating.

Federal authorities reduced the abstinence period to three months during the pandemic, amid a severe blood shortage.

Gay rights groups have long opposed blanket restrictions on who can donate blood, saying they clearly discriminate against the LGBTQ community.

Medical societies, including the leading American Medical Association, also argued that such exclusions are unnecessary, given laboratory advances in blood tests to detect infectious diseases.

"Current and previous blood donation policies made unfounded assumptions about gay and bisexual men and actually linked people's identity to their likelihood of having HIV," said Sarah Warbelow of the Human Rights Campaign, a group of LGBTQ activism, in statements collected by AP.

Source: elparis

All life articles on 2023-01-27

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