WASHINGTON — America is working to additional ease restrictions on blood donations from homosexual and bisexual males and different teams sometimes at greater threat of HIV.
The Meals and Drug Administration on Friday introduced a draft guideline that may take away the present three-month abstinence requirement for donations from males who’ve intercourse with males. As a substitute, all potential donors can be screened with a brand new questionnaire that assesses their particular person HIV dangers based mostly on sexual conduct, latest companions and different components.
If accomplished, many homosexual and bisexual males in monogamous relationships would be capable of donate blood for the primary time in many years. That is the FDA’s newest transfer to develop donor eligibility, with the potential to extend donations.
“We’re assured that the protection of the blood provide will likely be maintained,” mentioned Dr. FDA’s Peter Marks instructed reporters.
Homosexual rights teams have lengthy opposed blanket restrictions on who can donate blood, saying they discriminate towards the LGBTQ neighborhood. Medical societies, together with the American Medical Affiliation, have additionally acknowledged that such exclusions are pointless given technological advances in testing blood for infectious ailments.
“Present and previous blood donation pointers have made unfounded assumptions about homosexual and bisexual males and actually woven individuals’s identities into their probability of getting HIV,” mentioned Sarah Warbelow of the Human Rights Marketing campaign, an LGBTQ advocacy group.
America and plenty of different international locations started blocking blood donations from homosexual and bisexual males through the AIDS epidemic within the early 1980s to stop the unfold of HIV by means of the blood provide.
In 2015, the FDA lifted the lifetime ban and changed it with a one-year abstinence requirement. Then in 2020, the company shortened the abstinence interval to 3 months after donations plummeted through the COVID-19 pandemic.
Regulators mentioned there have been no adverse impacts on the blood provide because of these modifications.
The FDA establishes necessities and procedures for blood banks throughout the US. All potential donors reply questions on their sexual historical past, use of injectable medication, and up to date tattoos or piercings, amongst different components that will contribute to the unfold of blood-borne infections. The donated blood is then examined for HIV, hepatitis C, syphilis and different infectious ailments.
Underneath the brand new proposal, males who’ve intercourse with males will likely be requested if they’ve had new or a number of companions prior to now three months. Those that answered sure to each questions and likewise indicated having had anal intercourse can be barred from donating till a later date. The coverage would additionally apply to ladies who’ve intercourse with homosexual or bisexual males.
Anybody who has ever examined optimistic for HIV would nonetheless be ineligible to donate blood. These taking drugs to stop HIV would even be banned till three months after their final dose. The FDA famous that the drug generally known as PrEP can delay detection of the virus in screening assessments.
Marks mentioned the company is able to think about additional easing of restrictions “however we have to have the science to do it”.
FDA regulators will settle for public feedback on the proposal for 60 days earlier than starting finalization of the rules.
The proposed coverage mirrors these utilized in Canada and the UK
The FDA based mostly its newest proposal partly on a latest research of 1,600 homosexual and bisexual males. The FDA-funded research in contrast the effectiveness of an in depth, personalised sexual conduct questionnaire versus present time-based abstinence guidelines.
It should take a number of months for blood banks to make the modifications, in keeping with Cliff Numark, an government at Vitalant, a blood middle that participated within the research. The modifications require new questionnaires, employees coaching and pc software program updates.
The Purple Cross mentioned it helps the FDA’s modifications, however added that it is too early to know if they are going to result in extra blood donations.
Lukas Pietrzak, of Washington DC, mentioned he eagerly volunteered for the FDA research. He credit emergency blood transfusions with saving his father’s life after a bicycle accident in 1991.
Pietrzak donated blood in highschool however was not admitted after turning into sexually energetic as a homosexual man.
“Till I totally got here out to my associates, I needed to come to phrases with why I by no means went to donate blood with them,” says Pietrzak, 26, who now works for the federal authorities.
When blood donations are known as for, “we are able to now be there,” mentioned Pietrzak.
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