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FDA Will Amend Blood Donation Rule That Targeted Gay And Bisexual Men

Crisis prepares men and women to adopt unprecedented measures and strategies. We know this best through our most recent experience with Covid.

The world at large resorted to ideas and actions formerly unknown to overcome the challenge.  Well, on that note the US is now set to take such a similar course for a bizarre reason.

According to people familiar with the plans, gay and bisexual men in monogamous relationships would be permitted to give blood without refraining from sex under regulations being developed by the Food and Drug Administration.

The controversial trend that has created rounds for a long, which deepens the stigmatization of gay and bisexual men can be dated back to the 1980s when a complete ban was in place due to concerns about HIV.

Looking back to that era, the decision was partly understandable considering the lack of advancement in the scientific world and rational thought in general. 

New Rules In The Coming Months

Coming to the present development, during the Covid scenario, amid a severe shortage of blood, federal officials shortened the abstinence requirement to three months – a reduction of 9 months from the previous policy which required about one year of abstinence.

According to the statement, “the FDA remains dedicated to acquiring scientific data relevant to alternate donor deferral policies that retain a high degree of blood safety. We expect to release updated draft advice in the future months.”

From reports closer to the plans, the FDA intends to announce the new rules in the coming months. The sources also convey that all potential donors would be required to complete an individualized risk assessment.

In September, Canada implemented a similar scheme. The risk assessment in Canada is a document that asks uniform questions regarding a possible donor’s medical history, travel, and sexual behavior, regardless of gender or sexual orientation.

Following the course of Canada, potential donors who have had a new sexual partner in the last three months would be asked a series of questions, like if they have had anal intercourse during that period. Those who haven’t would be able to donate blood, according to an FDA official, which was reported by the journal.

The current policy, which is still bizarre in light of scientific progress, still requires men who have had sex with other men to wait three months before donating blood.

In response to the news, Sarah Kate Ellis, the CEO, and president of GLAAD, the largest LGBTQ media advocacy organization in the world, expressed her opinion that bans and restrictions on blood donations from gay and bisexual men are rooted in stigma, not science, as LGBTQ leaders and medical experts have been saying for years.

While such events unfold, claims are circulating that the new approach is intended to achieve a compromise between activists who oppose any restrictions that specifically target gay and bisexual men and blood banks who want to reduce the likelihood of a recipient contracting H.I.V. Because, at present, the transfer of policy can only be observed under the light of the severe shortage of blood and heavy criticism that was waged against the association.

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Early this year, Vitalant, OneBlood, and the American Red Cross, three of the biggest non-profit blood banks in the United States, concluded their study. Among other things, study participants were questioned about their sexual activity, whether they used condoms, and whether they had more than one sex partner at certain times.

All these developments should be read against the background of LGBTQ advocacy organizations like the Human Rights Campaign have long criticized the U.S. blood donation policy as discriminatory and advocated for allowing men who have sex with men to donate. Additionally calling for a change in the law are the American Medical Association and the American Red Cross.

There is no “specific timeline,” according to the FDA because the organization is still gathering and analyzing data from various sources. As it stands, the statements and temporary lean offer a little relief due to the association’s intent to prioritize individual risks (HIV related), rather than the controversial norms against homosexual and bisexual men.

Overall, the only way to avoid such absurd restrictions based on baseless stigma is to wait and persevere until they are exposed and replaced by scientific evidence that supports inclusivity.

Nikki Attkisson

With over 15 years as a practicing journalist, Nikki Attkisson found herself at Powdersville Post now after working at several other publications. She is an award-winning journalist with an entrepreneurial spirit and worked as a journalist covering technology, innovation, environmental issues, politics, health etc. Nikki Attkisson has also worked on product development, content strategy, and editorial management for numerous media companies. She began her career at local news stations and worked as a reporter in national newspapers.

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