The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced Friday it will ease blood donation restrictions on gay and bisexual men, including allowing those in monogamous relationships to donate.
The policy change, which was revealed in new draft guidance, comes after years of urging by public health experts, blood banks and LGBTQ advocacy groups. The new policy would address future blood shortages and remove the stigma around gay men, experts say.
Additionally, the American Red Cross and the American Medical Association have both supported a risk-based approach to donor eligibility.
“Whether it’s for someone involved in a car accident, or for an individual with a life-threatening illness, blood donations save lives every day,” FDA Commissioner Dr. Robert M. Califf said in a statement. “Maintaining a safe and adequate supply of blood and blood products in the U.S. is paramount for the FDA, and this proposal for an individual risk assessment, regardless of gender or sexual orientation, will enable us to continue using the best science to do so.”
Rather than a blanket ban due to sexual orientation, the relaxation of the rule would screen potential donors on their risk of contracting and transmitting HIV.