The U.S. Food and Drug Administration may be lifting regulations on blood donations from gay men. The move comes after pressure from activists in the wake of a mass shooting at an Orlando gay club and blood shortages that followed.
Last year, the FDA changed a 30 year old policy that said gay men couldn’t donate blood. The revision made it possible for them to donate, but only if they haven’t engaged in sex with another man for one year. Now, the FDA is asking the public for alternative policy ideas.
Big Bend Cares Deputy Director Charlie Adams says, “I think a lot has changed in technology and the ability to test blood for everyone, so I see no reason to single out one particular group based upon an old thought process. There’s risks involved with anyone’s blood, and it’s not just HIV and AIDS, which I think is more specifically targeted for men engaging in male-to-male sexual contact so I would believe that the law should be looked at. I think it’s an outdated law that comes out of a different time and a different place.”
Big Bend Cares works with people living with HIV, offering education and support. Adams says he understands the increased risk of HIV contraction for gay men, but says someone having sex with another man isn’t enough to defer their donation. The FDA is concerned current testing can’t detect infections that have been recently contracted, and is asking for public comment and scientific evidence to inform its decision.