Gay and bisexual men in monogamous relationships will no longer be forced to abstain from sex to donate blood under federal guidelines announced Friday, ending a vestige of the earliest days of the AIDS crisis.
F.D.A. Relaxes Blood Donation Guidelines for Gay Men and Others
The Food and Drug Administration announced on Thursday that it was significantly loosening its recommendations for blood donations from gay and bisexual men, reducing the amount of time men who have had sex with men should wait before they give blood to three months from one year in hopes of ameliorating a drastic drop in supply during the coronavirus pandemic.
The earlier 12-month waiting period was intensely criticized as discriminatory and antiquated when the F.D.A. introduced it in 2015 to replace a lifetime prohibition on blood donation by gay and bisexual men.
That ban was enacted in 1983, early in the AIDS epidemic when little was known about the human immunodeficiency virus that caused the disease. The F.D.A. re-examined the ban over the years but had maintained that the restriction was necessary to keep the blood supply safe and untainted by H.I.V.
In support of its change on Thursday, the agency said in a statement that based on recent studies, it had “concluded that current policies regarding certain donor eligibility criteria can be modified without compromising the safety of the blood supply.”
Finally! This was such an outdated rule in my opinion.
Here is more current information out of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Right or wrong policy makers toil with managing at least two risk factors among others:
-The probability that a donor has a disease,
-the probability that a test will miss the existence of that disease. (a false negative on the test)
Among a myriad of data sets, two major components include data on which donors may be at higher risk and why, and in what time frame is a test (in this case an HIV test) more or less likely to be inaccurate? (the point the NYTimes article alludes to)
Now to some data and sources, understand the various sensibilities and sensitivities to all of this.
"Of the 38.739 new HIV diagnoses in the US and dependent areas in 2017,
27,000 (70%) were adult and adolescent gay and bisexual men."
"2,625 were men who inject drugs, 1016 were among women who inject drugs.
As with many complex issues there are several pieces of information and these are a part of the conversation, although not the whole conversation.
The new approach eliminates rules that target men who have sex with men and instead focuses on sexual behaviors by people, regardless of gender, that pose a higher risk of contracting and transmitting HIV. The FDA is expected to adopt the proposal after a period of public comment.
“Donating blood is one of several really important symbolic methods of demonstrating one’s caring for other people,” FDA Commissioner Robert M. Califf said. “We want to make that available to everyone possible in the context of a safe blood supply.”