It seems the world is finally changing for good. Even though, the change is taking place quite slowly, there certainly is some positivity coming out of it. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is reported to have decided to lift the lifetime ban that prevented homosexuals from donating blood.
The administration passed a statement on Monday, saying, “FDA is changing its recommendations that men who have sex with men (MSM) be indefinitely deferred – a policy that has been in existence for around 30 years – to 12 months since the last sexual contact with another man.”
The ban that was implemented by the FDA back in 1983 due to the rapid spread of AIDS, which ultimately led to a situation of crisis, is now finally going to be uplifted. Since quite little was actually known about the disease and the consequent spread of the time, such an act was allowed to be passed.
But, supported by substantial years of scientific research as well as consultation with external advisory committees and other government agencies that are further involved in the decision – making process of the same, FDA was finally able to carry out the final guidance that was supposedly leading towards making this clause active.
Congressional members, calling for the FDA to lift bans on bisexual and gay men from donating blood, pointed toward a 2014 FDA BloodDROPS survey, which discovered that the spread of HIV in gay and bisexual male blood donors was merely 0.25%, which, in fact, is not more than the total pervasiveness in the U.S. of 0.38%.
Dr. Peter Marks, deputy director of the FDA’s Centre for Biologics Evaluation and Research stated, “In reviewing our policies to help reduce the risk of HIV transmission through blood products, we rigorously examined several alternative options, including individual risk assessment.”
Stephen Ostroff, FDA Acting Commissioner, M.D., stated, “We have taken great care to ensure this policy revision is backed by sound science and continues to protect our blood supply.”
The start of this took place in 2006 wherein AABB (American Association of Blood Banks) along with America’s Blood Centres and the American Red Cross urged the FDA to modify the blood donation policy because they are “medically and scientifically unwarranted.”
While expressing his restlessness, Kelsey Louie, CEO for Gay Men’s Health Crisis said, “The United States government has to stop reacting to HIV like it is the early 1980s. It is time for the FDA to implement a policy that is truly based on science, not blanket bans on certain groups of people.”
Many other changes were brought about by the FDA, including the recommendations regarding donor educational materials, his/her history questionnaires and other such similarly related data, including product management procedures. Self – identity and self – report are also made to be a part of the questionnaire that is designed especially for the transgender community.
Even though, this change is considered to be a step in the right direction by many, including the Human Rights Campaign, the new policy still tends to stigmatize gay and bisexual men.