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November 16, 2014 Published in Health & Fitness, Top Stories

FDA Advisory Committee Recommends Softening Ban On Blood Donations By Gay Men

By Mike Stankiewicz

An advisory committee to the Food and Drug Administration voted Thursday to recommend the U.S. allow blood donations from gay men.

The Advisory Committee on Blood and Tissue Safety & Availability voted 16-2 on whether they think the current ban on gay and bisexual men from donating blood should be softened. The ban, put into place in the 1980s during the height of the AIDS epidemic, bans gay men from donating blood if they have had sex since 1978. The advisory committee's recommendation is to allow gay men to donate as long as they have been abstinent for one year.

Under the current rule, a heterosexual woman who has had an AIDS or HIV infected partner can donate after waiting only a year, which some gay activists believe is discriminatory and unnecessary due to technological advances in recent decades designed to prevent the spread of the disease through blood transfusions.

While it is the Food and Drug Administration’s decision whether to change the current rule, the committee is a known trusted source for federal guidelines. The FDA will consider the recommendation next month as to whether the current guidelines should be changed.

Caleb Laieski, the plaintiff in a federal lawsuit against the FDA, spoke against the ban at the meeting Thursday in Arlington. If the ban is not overturned, Laieski plans to continue his lawsuit against the FDA over the constitutionality of the ban until it is overturned by the courts or the administration.

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