The government of the U.S. overturned on Monday its ban of 30 years on gay men donating blood saying they are now allowed to donate 12 months after having their last sexual contact with another male.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced that its decision to reverse its policy that is based upon examination of the latest science that shows an indefinite ban is not needed to prevent HIV transmission. HIV is the virus that causes AIDS.
This move brings in line the U.S. with other countries such as Australia, the United Kingdom and New Zealand, which have deferment periods of 12 months.
Advocates of gay rights said the new policy is still discriminatory. They called it ridiculous and counter to public health that a gay man who is married in a relationship that is monogamous cannot donate blood, but a straight man who is promiscuous has many sex partners of the opposite sex can.
The FDA announced that it has worked with other agencies in the government and considered the input from outside groups and has examined carefully the recent available evidence to support its current policy revision.
During the switch in Australia from an indefinite deferral policy of blood donation for gay men, which is essentially a ban, to a deferral of 12 months, studies that evaluated over 8 million units of blood donated were performed said the FDA using the national blood surveillance systems.
In addition, the agency announced that people who have hemophilia as well as related disorders of blood clotting remained banned from blood donation due to the possible harm they might suffer from the larges needles.
They were banned previously because of an increased risk of transmission of HIV.
The FDA said it put in place safety monitoring systems for the blood supply that it expects will provide the critical information that will help to inform futures blood donor policies in the FDA.
The FDA announced that its safety policies have helped to reduce transmission rates of HIV from a blood transfusion from 1 in every 2,500 to 1 in every 1.47 million.