The FDA has been under a lot of pressure for its ridiculous policy banning blood donations from anyone who has had a single sexual encounter with another man anytime since Jimmy Carter was president. Apparently, the agency has decided to give in–kind of. Under new guidelines yet to be approved, the FDA would reduce the ban to a one-year period.
Which is still pretty ridiculous.
The new policy does not take into account couples in monogamous relationships. It also equates all “sexual contact” with the same level of risk, which simply is not true. The FDA has essentially lessened the stigma, but it hasn’t removed it.
“If you are a heterosexual man who admits to having unprotected sex with a sex worker or prostitute, you can wait one year and donate blood.” Sean Cahill, director of health policy research at the Fenway Institute, told Vox. “But a gay man who has been in a monogamous relationship and who tests negative for HIV still can’t.” A one-month deferral would make more sense given the sensitivity of the tests used to screen blood donations.
The agency still has to finalize the recommendation, which would take effect sometime in mid-2015. Despite its flaws, the new guidelines would be a step forward. Unfortunately, there are still a few more steps to go.