A federal government advisory board is suggesting the U.S. soften its ban on gay men donating blood.
Since 1977, the U.S. government has banned any man who has ever had sex with another man from donating blood. A consortium of blood donation organizations, including the American Red Cross today calls the ban "medically and scientifically unwarranted."
Now, the Health and Human Services Advisory Committee on Blood & Tissue Safety & Availability has voted to drop the ban for men who have not had sex with another man in at least a year, according to Buzzfeed.
The advisory group's chairman, Jay Menitove, notes that the system "has been very successful, in part, I believe, because the public has trust in the system and the decisions we make." He adds, “To maintain that trust and compliance on the part of the public, it is time to modernize.”
The American Red Cross, the American Association of Blood Banks, and America’s Blood Centers, in a joint statement also say the recommendation is “consistent with our joint position.”
Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC) calls the news "a step in the right direction.”
But the ACLU notes the "proposed one-year deferral will prevent two men who maintain a committed, monogamous relationship from ever donating blood. This proposed policy does not distinguish between high risk and safer sex practices... Criteria for being a blood donor should be based on science, not discriminatory stereotypes and assumptions.”
Bloomberg notes that the advisory board's recommendations "will be considered by a group of advisers to the Food and Drug Administration in a Dec. 2 meeting. While the FDA doesn’t have to follow either panel’s advice, their recommendations are considered influential."
BREAKING: HHS committee votes 16-2 to recommend ending 30 yr old #gaybloodban in favor of a 1yr deferral! HUGE step in the right direction!— Gay Blood Drive (@gayblooddrive) November 13, 2014