The US Meals and Drug Administration has proposed that blood donor assessments measure particular person danger and don’t exclude folks based mostly on their sexual orientation or gender
30 January 2023
On 27 January, the US Meals and Drug Administration (FDA) proposed new guidelines that might make it simpler for homosexual and bisexual males to donate blood. The proposed guidelines are just like these in nations such because the UK and Canada – they suggest screening blood donors based mostly on the kind of sexual exercise they have interaction in, not their gender or sexual orientation.
All donated blood is screened for pathogens, however these assessments can’t precisely detect HIV or hepatitis infections till a few weeks to a few months after publicity. Males who’ve intercourse with males are at a higher danger of contracting HIV and hepatitis, in order that they have historically been restricted from donating blood within the US.
At present, males can’t donate blood within the US if they’ve had intercourse with a person throughout the earlier three months. And, anybody who has had intercourse within the final three months with a person who engages in sexual exercise with different males can also be barred from donating. As such, males in monogamous relationships with different males can’t donate blood, although their danger of getting HIV is far decrease than that of males with a number of companions.
Now, the FDA has proposed that males who’ve intercourse with males can donate blood as long as they haven’t engaged in anal intercourse with a brand new or a number of companions within the earlier three months. The choice is predicated on findings from the FDA’s ADVANCE study, which investigated how the impacts of fixing the rules – the outcomes recommend these adjustments gained’t compromise the protection of the blood provide. As a substitute, nobody, no matter their gender, can donate blood in the event that they report having a brand new or a number of sexual companions and have engaged in anal intercourse within the earlier three months.
“That has to do with the danger of exchanging blood throughout vaginal intercourse versus anal intercourse,” stated Peter Marks on the FDA throughout a press convention. “Anal intercourse is related to the next danger of exchanging blood.”
The steerage would nonetheless apply to individuals who use condoms throughout anal intercourse, stated Marks.
The proposal would additionally bar blood donations from folks taking HIV prevention drugs akin to pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP). Whereas these scale back the danger of contracting HIV, Marks stated folks utilizing the medicine have higher incidences of HIV in contrast with the final inhabitants.
“Till we will higher type out who’s at decrease danger in that group taking PrEP, we have to put this donor deferral in place,” he stated. “That’s to not say we gained’t proceed to take a look at this and attempt to refine the rules additional.”
The general public has 60 days to touch upon the rules, after which the FDA might revise the steerage earlier than finalising it. As soon as remaining, it shouldn’t take lengthy for blood donation centres to replace their screening questionnaires, stated Marks.
A spokesperson for the American Crimson Cross stated the organisation “is happy the FDA has proposed to find out blood donor-eligibility utilizing a gender-inclusive, particular person risk-based evaluation no matter sexual orientation”.
“Donating blood is certainly one of a number of essential symbolic strategies of demonstrating one’s caring for different folks,” stated FDA commissioner Robert Califf on the press convention. “So, we need to make that obtainable to everybody attainable within the context of protected blood provides.”
“LGBTQ+ advocates and different well being advocate leaders have labored for many years to strain the FDA and different regulatory companies to replace coverage and transfer towards adopting an method rooted in science, not in id,” stated Kelley Robinson on the Human Rights Marketing campaign in a statement. Robinson stated that this “represents an essential first step towards dismantling an antiquated and discriminatory blood donation coverage that restricts homosexual, bisexual, and different males who’ve intercourse with males from donating blood”.
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