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FDA Proposes End To Lifetime Ban On Gay Blood Donors

Updated at 1:42 p.m. ET

Men who haven't had sexual contact with other men in a year will be allowed to donate blood under a policy change the Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday it will recommend.

In a statement, the agency said it had "carefully examined and considered the available scientific evidence" and will "take the necessary steps to recommend a change to the blood donor deferral period for men who have sex with men from indefinite deferral to one year since the last sexual contact."

A draft guidance recommending the proposed change will be issued in 2015, the agency said. There will also be a period of public comment.

A ban on gay and bisexual blood donors has been in effect since the early 1980s when fears about HIV/AIDS were widespread.

NPR's Rob Stein tells our Newscast unit:

"Advocates have been pushing to discard that policy for years, saying it's outdated and discriminatory. The decision was welcomed by some gay-rights groups. But some say the one-year ban is still unnecessary and offensive. At the same time, others are concerned any change could let a small number of HIV-positive donors slip through the screening system."

Australia, Britain and Japan have policies similar to the one the FDA backed Tuesday.

Stein also reported on the debate earlier this month.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Krishnadev Calamur is NPR's deputy Washington editor. In this role, he helps oversee planning of the Washington desk's news coverage. He also edits NPR's Supreme Court coverage. Previously, Calamur was an editor and staff writer at The Atlantic. This is his second stint at NPR, having previously worked on NPR's website from 2008-15. Calamur received an M.A. in journalism from the University of Missouri.

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