Study underway on gay blood donation restrictions

Despite advancements in blood screening technology, gay and bisexual men still face restrictions when donating blood.

For decades, the U.S. and many other countries banned donations from gay and bisexual men due to the risk of spreading HIV through the blood supply.

In 2015, the Food and Drug Administration moved from a total ban to a one-year abstinence period for men who have sex with men.

In 2020, the disqualifying time period was reduced to three months in the U.S. with Israel and the U.K. following by also lifting some restrictions.

Now, a nationwide study is the U.S. underway to determine whether it makes scientific sense to have any restriction at all.

The study, underway in several cities across the nation, involves surveying volunteers currently unable to donate blood due to restrictions.

The volunteers are asked questions concerning behavior risks rather than simply asking about sexual identity.

They’ll also collect blood samples to test for HIV and HIV prevention medication.

Researchers will gather data through July and send the results to the FDA which will then consider lifting the restrictions on gay men donating blood.

Gay rights groups have continued to challenge the policy, saying it’s unnecessary due to advanced blood testing technology and continues to stigmatize gay and bisexual men.

The nation is also experiencing an ongoing blood supply shortage due to the pandemic, so advocates for getting rid of the restrictions say more donors are needed.

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