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FDA easing ban on blood donations by gay and bisexual men

The Food and Drug Administration says it plans to allow gay men to donate blood, but only if they have not been sexually active for a year.

The announcement made Tuesday eases a ban that has been in place since 1983.

“How are you going to prove that you haven’t had sex in a year? Are you just going to be able to say that and it’s going to be definitive,” asks Jud Gray who has been with his partner for 27 years.

Older gay couples in Palm Springs are remember the discrimination they felt when the FDA enacted a ban on blood donations from homosexual and bisexual men.

“A lot of my friends have died of aids but this all happened before the ability to control it or semi control it,” says Rudy Premetz.

“LGBTQ people have know their whole lives that we take baby steps to get where we want,” says George Zander, Field Manager for Equality California in Palm Springs.

“We’re extremely disappointed with the FDA’s announcement today, which does not represent real reform based on modern science and risk factors,” said Rick Zbur, EQCA executive director. “Instead, this proposed policy change appears to be mere window dressing designed to pacify the LGBT community and other policy critics without implementing any real change. The reality is that this revised policy would continue to discriminate against gay and bisexual men with low risk factors based on their sexual orientation and would continue to unnecessarily prevent countless gay and bisexual men from making life-saving donations to the nation’s blood supply.”

“There will be an increase in the number of eligible safe blood donors but I don’t think the impact will be dramatic simply because the change does not allow people who are in ongoing relationships to donate blood,” says Dr. Joe Chaffin Chief Medical Officer with LifeStream Blood Bank.

A study done by UCLA finds by instituting a one-year deferral period for sexually active gay men, the change could bring in an additional 317,000 pints of blood.

In order for the changes to the policy to go into affect, the FDA has has to put out a draft guidance that will be finalized sometime in early 2015.

KESQ News Team

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