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More gay and bisexual men can donate blood under new FDA rules


The Food and Drug Administration said Thursday it finalized a new rule that will allow more gay and bisexual men to donate blood.

According to the latest guidelines, all potential donors should complete an individualized risk assessment, regardless of gender or sexual orientation. People who have had anal sex with a new partner, or more than one partner, in the past three months would be asked to wait to donate blood.

The updated guidelines mean that most gay and bisexual men who are in a monogamous relationship with another man will no longer need to abstain from sex to donate blood.

Previously, the FDA only allowed donations from men who have sex with men if they had not had sex with another man for three months.

“Implementing these recommendations will represent a significant milestone for the agency and the LGBTQI+ community,” Dr. Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, said in a statement.

The agency will continue to monitor the safety of the blood supply, he added.

FDA restrictions on blood donations from men who have sex with men stem from the AIDS crisis, which began in the early 1980s, when little was known about HIV.

The agency first proposed the new rules, which are consistent with those in Canada and the UK, in January.

People taking medication to prevent or treat HIV infection would be asked to wait before donating blood under the new guidelines.

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Joanna Swanson

Joanna Swanson is Europe correspondent at the Thomson Reuters Foundation based in Brussels covering politics, culture, business, climate change, society, economies and inclusive tech. With specific focus in breaking news, she has covered some of the world's most significant stories.