LGBT rights groups say that changes to America’s gay blood ban allowing gay men to donate blood if they are celibate for a year are still not acceptable.
Last week, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released its final approval of the new rules. Gay and bisexual men were previously barred for life from donating blood in the US.
“This new policy prevents men from donating life-saving blood based solely on their sexual orientation rather than actual risk to the blood supply,” said David Stacy, Government Affairs Director for the Human Rights Campaign.
“While it’s a step in the right direction toward an ideal policy that reflects the best scientific research, it still falls far short of a fully acceptable solution because it continues to stigmatise gay and bisexual men.
“It simply cannot be justified in light of current scientific research and updated blood screening technology. We are committed to working towards an eventual outcome that both minimises risk to the blood supply and treats gay and bisexual men with the respect they deserve,” said Stacy.
The FDA said that, moving forward, it will “continue to re-evaluate its blood donor deferral policies as new scientific information becomes available.”
The American Red Cross, America’s Blood Centers, and the American Association of Blood Banks have characterised the blood ban as medically and scientifically unwarranted as far back as 2006.
A September 2014 study found that by lifting the ban on gay and bisexual men donating blood, the US could save almost two million lives.
There is also a one-year sexual activity blood donation deferral in place for gay men in Japan, Sweden and the UK.
In South Africa, there is a deferral for anyone – gay or straight – who has had a new sexual partner in the previous six months.