News (USA)

AMA says it opposes FDA lifetime ban on gay men as blood donors

The American Medical Association, the largest association of physicians in the U.S., voted Tuesday to oppose a decades long ban by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which prohibits gay men from donating blood, reported ABC News.

The FDA originated the ban in 1983 in response to the AIDS outbreak.

Now 30 years later, many experts agree the policy is outdated, and HIV and AIDS testing has become standard practice in blood donations to minimize risk to recipients.

“The lifetime ban on blood donation for men who have sex with men is discriminatory and not based on sound science,” AMA board member Dr. William Kobler said in a statement. “This new policy urges a federal policy change to ensure blood donation bans or deferrals are applied to donors according to their individual level of risk and are not based on sexual orientation alone.”

The AMA said it recommends that the FDA update its policy to accurately represent scientific research, rather than lump all gay men into a “high risk” category.

According to the FDA’s website, approximately 1 in 2 million blood transfusions results in an HIV infection.

Last month, Canadian health officials announced an end to a similar ban, saying they would allow men to donate blood if they haven’t had sex with a man in the last five years.

The United Kingdom lifted its ban in 2011, allowing gay and bisexual men to donate blood if they haven’t had sex with a man in the prior 12 months.

Other countries, including Australia, Japan, South Africa, Sweden and New Zealand, also allow gay men to donate blood under similar restrictions.

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