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March 15, 2010

FDA to Reevaluate MSM Blood Donation Ban Following Criticism

Following criticism from elected officials as well as HIV/AIDS and LGBT advocates, the Food and Drug Administration announced March 13 that it will re-examine its lifetime ban on blood donations from men who have sex with men (MSM), the Los Angeles Times reports. The policy was introduced in the mid-1980s in response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

The FDA “has been actively engaged in reexamining the issue of blood donor deferral for men who have had sex with other men, taking into account the current body of scientific information, and we are considering the possibility of pursuing alternative strategies that maintain blood safety,” the agency said in a statement. The Department of Health and Human Services’ blood safety commission will examine the policy in June.

HIV/AIDS and gay rights groups have called the MSM blood restriction stigmatizing. The American Red Cross, the American Association of Blood Banks and America’s Blood Centers—which represent nearly all blood banks in the United States—have recommended looser restrictions, including a one-year deferral period for potential MSM donors as opposed to a lifelong ban.

Last week, a group of senators led by John Kerry (D–Mass.) wrote a letter to the FDA calling the blood donation ban “outdated” and “medically and scientifically unsound.”

Search: FDA, MSM, blood, donation, HIV/AIDS, Senator John Kerry, The American Red Cross, American Association of Blood Banks


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