FDA floats looser blood donation rules for gay, bisexual men

The FDA issued draft guidance Jan. 27 to loosen blood donation eligibility rules for gay and bisexual men in monogamous relationships.  

The agency is proposing eliminating time-based deferrals, which requires men to abstain from sex with other men for three months before donating blood. Instead, blood banks would ask all prospective donors — regardless of their gender — the same set of questions about behaviors that pose a higher risk of contracting and transmitting HIV.

The FDA would still bar donations from people who have tested positive for HIV. Individuals taking preexposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, would have to wait three months from their last oral dose or two years from their last injectable dose before donating blood. 

Blood banks, the American Medical Association and LGBT rights groups have long advocated for loosening the current blood donor rules, which they say are outdated and homophobic, according to The Washington Post. The FDA first restricted blood donations among gay and bisexual men in the 1980s amid the AIDS epidemic, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The FDA is expected to adopt the new rules after a 60-day comment period, the Post said. 

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