Mind and Body

FDA rethinking ban on blood donations by men who had sex with men

close up of blood extraction in lab

close up of blood extraction in lab

Men who have had sex with other men will be allowed to donate blood under some conditions if the U.S. Food and Drug Administration finalizes "draft guidance" published on Tuesday.

Men who have had sex with another man (MSMs) even once since 1977 are banned from donating blood in the United States as they are recognized to be at a higher risk of contracting HIV.

MSMs are not restricted to homosexual men.

If approved, the ban on blood donations would be lifted for those who have not had sex with another man in prior 12 months. (1.usa.gov/1AU9YDh)

After publishing draft guidance, the FDA invites comments and holds public hearings. The FDA may then also seek expert recommendations before making a final decision.

Some experts indicated support for a change in the rule on blood donations by MSMs in an FDA panel discussion in December, but did not make any recommendations.

The Department of Health and Human Services voted 16-2 in November in favor of changing policies to allow blood donations by MSMs if they have not had sex with another man for a year.

The draft recommendation suggests deferring donations from women who have had sex with an MSM by 12 months.