FDA Eases Restrictions On Gay Blood Donors Amid COVID-19

Due to an "urgent need for blood," the Food and Drug Administration revised its blood donor guidelines on Thursday (April 2), altering the restrictions imposed on men who have sex with other men.

As per new guidelines, the donation deferral period for sexually active gay and bisexual men was reduced from 12 months to three. In other words, these candidates need to abstain from same-sex activity for 90 days before they can be eligible to donate blood. Before Thursday's announcement, the restrictions on donations from gay and bisexual men were, well, strict and the topic has been under the microscope since many in-person blood drives have been cancelled amid COVID-19 concerns.

During a call with reporters, Surgeon General Jerome Adams emphasized that it's important that HIV-positive individuals steer clear from donating. "These changes are based on the best science that we have today regarding the time that it takes to test positive for HIV," he explained to the press, admitting that the updated regulations should encourage more people "to do the right thing: donate blood."

Nonetheless, Democrat Scott Wiener, a member of the California Senate, described the policy as "still awful." "The celibacy requirement still irrationally discriminates against gay and bisexual men by placing a celibacy requirement on them without placing that same requirement on sexually active straight people," he explained, adding that "modern HIV testing technology is so accurate and powerful that it will detect any HIV infection that occurred 10-14 days or longer before the donation."

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