Advisors for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will meet next week to discuss lifting a 30-year-old ban that prohibits gay men from donating blood.
Long-time critics of the ban, including some members of Congress, say the Dec. 2 meeting is a step in the right direction.
“We’ve got the ball rolling. I feel like this is a tide-turning vote,” Ryan James Yessak, an LGBT activist who founded the National Gay Blood Drive and will speak at before the Blood Products Advisory Committee, told The Hill. “There’s been a lot of feet dragging and I think they’re realizing it now.”
The ban was enacted in 1983 during the national AIDS epidemic, and last updated in 1992. The committee will hear scientific data and an update from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Advisory Committee on blood and tissue safety, according to the FDA website.
The move has received praise from the American Red Cross and America’s Blood Centers, who called the ban “medically and scientifically unwarranted,” The Hill reported. Members of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus have also shown their support.
“Following deliberations taking into consideration the available evidence, the FDA will issue revised guidance, if appropriate,” FDA spokeswoman Jennifer Rodriguez told The Hill in a statement.
The FDA is not compelled to follow the recommendation, and it would likely not entirely eliminate the ban. The new policy instead would allow men to donate only if they have not had sex with another man for one year, according to The Hill’s report.