FDA proposes easing restrictions on blood donations, seeks public remark : NPR

The Meals and Drug Administration proposes easing many restrictions on homosexual and bisexual males donating blood.


Homosexual and bisexual males have lengthy confronted restrictions in donating blood. These prohibitions have been criticized as pointless and discriminatory. Properly, in the present day the Meals and Drug Administration proposed new guidelines for who can donate blood. NPR’s Rob Stein is with us to clarify all. Hey, Rob.

ROB STEIN, BYLINE: Hey, Mary Louise.

KELLY: So the present restrictions in place are what precisely?

STEIN: The restrictions date again to the early days of the AIDS pandemic and have been designed to guard the blood provide from HIV. Initially, homosexual and bisexual males have been fully barred from donating blood. The FDA has been enjoyable that ban over time, however males who had intercourse with one other man within the final three months have nonetheless been prohibited from donating. Advocates for the LGBTQ group, in addition to blood banks and main medical teams, have known as the coverage outdated and stigmatizing.

KELLY: Outdated and stigmatizing. So what’s the FDA proposing as a substitute?

STEIN: The FDA desires to implement new guidelines that target conduct as a substitute of gender and sexual identification. Beneath the brand new guidelines, anybody who says they’ve had a brand new sexual associate or a number of sexual companions and have had anal intercourse within the final three months can be prohibited from donating. That is as a result of HIV is unfold extra simply by anal intercourse than other forms of sexual contact. So this proposal means for the primary time, even some girls may very well be prohibited from donating, however monogamous homosexual and bisexual males can be allowed to donate for the primary time in a long time. Here is how Dr. Peter Marks from the FDA described the change throughout a briefing in the present day.

PETER MARKS: We’re transferring now to an inclusive coverage for blood donation that is as inclusive as it may be that we are going to proceed to work to attempt to guarantee that we’ve insurance policies that enable everybody who desires to donate blood to have the ability to donate blood inside what the science permits to guarantee that the blood provide stays protected.

STEIN: Intercourse staff and intravenous drug customers would nonetheless be prohibited from donating, as would individuals who have examined optimistic for HIV or are taking treatment to forestall HIV an infection.

KELLY: And what sort of response has there been to this?

STEIN: You understand, it has been fairly optimistic from advocates, medical teams and blood banks. The pandemic has exacerbated the issue of blood shortages. Here is Kate Fry from America’s Blood Facilities.

KATE FRY: The blood group may be very excited concerning the proposed adjustments. Now we have advocated for a decade now for a transfer to a person threat evaluation mannequin, so that is very welcome by blood facilities throughout the nation.

STEIN: She careworn that every one donated blood is rigorously screened for HIV and that testing has improved dramatically to make sure the protection of the blood provide.

KELLY: Though you simply advised me that this ban was initially put in place to attempt to defend the blood provide from HIV, is there any concern about this transfer from a well being perspective?

STEIN: Properly, many of the consultants say that it appears affordable and the blood provide will nonetheless be protected, however there’s some advocates which might be saying that the adjustments do not go far sufficient. They are saying a number of the remaining restrictions are nonetheless pointless and homophobic, such because the prohibition towards individuals taking treatment known as PrEP to cut back the danger for catching HIV. Here is Tony Morrison from the group GLAAD.

TONY MORRISON: Once we restrict and defer people who find themselves being proactive of their sexual well being, that stigmatizes them. The misunderstanding is that individuals on PrEP are extra promiscuous or that they’ve a better threat of HIV an infection. And that is, you already know, categorically false.

STEIN: So his group will proceed to foyer the FDA to additional ease restrictions.

KELLY: And briefly, Rob, what is the timeline on this?

STEIN: The proposed adjustments can be open for public remark for 60 days. The FDA will then concern a closing rule in all probability later this yr, so monogamous homosexual males might begin donating blood once more for the primary time in a long time someday in 2023.

KELLY: Someday this yr. NPR well being correspondent Rob Stein. Thanks.

STEIN: Thanks.


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