The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has proposed a change to the blood donation policy that would allow gay and bisexual men to donate blood.
In a post published on its website Friday, the federal agency indicated that it wants to update the policy to include an assessment for blood donor eligibility using gender-inclusive, individual risk-based questions instead of the usual time-based deferrals.
According to the FDA, this would reduce the risk of transfusion-transmitted HIV better, and it would be in line with the blood donation policies already implemented in Canada and the United Kingdom.
“Whether it’s for someone involved in a car accident, or for an individual with a life-threatening illness, blood donations save lives every day. Maintaining a safe and adequate supply of blood and blood products in the U.S. is paramount for the FDA,” Robert M. Califf, M.D., the agency’s commissioner, said in the post.
“And this proposal for an individual risk assessment, regardless of gender or sexual orientation, will enable us to continue using the best science to do so,” he added.
The proposal seeks to eliminate time-based deferrals for men who have sex with men (MSM) and women who have sex with MSM. Under the suggested guidelines, blood donors would be asked about their new or multiple sexual partners in the past three months, according to CNN.
Should a potential donor admit to having new or multiple sexual partners, they would be further asked if they had anal intercourse during the period allowed before blood donation. Those who have not engaged in the act would be allowed to donate blood.
The policy currently in place requires MSM to wait three months after their sexual contact before they can donate blood. The proposal would then help secure more blood donations since more MSM would be allowed to donate.
The agency started to give hints about the proposed change in blood donation policy last November. At the time, the FDA said it was thinking of shifting the guidelines away from blanket assessments to a more specific assessment method.
The FDA will finalize the guidance in 60 days. During this period, the proposal is open for public comment.