The Meals and Drug Administration proposes easing many restrictions on homosexual and bisexual males donating blood.
MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:
Homosexual and bisexual males have lengthy confronted restrictions in donating blood. These prohibitions have been criticized as pointless and discriminatory. Nicely, at the moment the Meals and Drug Administration proposed new guidelines for who can donate blood. NPR’s Rob Stein is with us to clarify all. Hey, Rob.
ROB STEIN, BYLINE: Hey, Mary Louise.
KELLY: So the present restrictions in place are what precisely?
STEIN: The restrictions date again to the early days of the AIDS pandemic and have been designed to guard the blood provide from HIV. Initially, homosexual and bisexual males have been fully barred from donating blood. The FDA has been enjoyable that ban over time, however males who had intercourse with one other man within the final three months have nonetheless been prohibited from donating. Advocates for the LGBTQ neighborhood, in addition to blood banks and main medical teams, have referred to as the coverage outdated and stigmatizing.
KELLY: Outdated and stigmatizing. So what’s the FDA proposing as a substitute?
STEIN: The FDA needs to implement new guidelines that target habits as a substitute of gender and sexual id. Below the brand new guidelines, anybody who says they’ve had a brand new sexual associate or a number of sexual companions and have had anal intercourse within the final three months can be prohibited from donating. That is as a result of HIV is unfold extra simply by anal intercourse than different kinds of sexual contact. So this proposal means for the primary time, even some girls might be prohibited from donating, however monogamous homosexual and bisexual males can be allowed to donate for the primary time in a long time. Here is how Dr. Peter Marks from the FDA described the change throughout a briefing at the moment.
PETER MARKS: We’re transferring now to an inclusive coverage for blood donation that is as inclusive as it may be that we are going to proceed to work to attempt to guarantee that we’ve insurance policies that permit everybody who needs to donate blood to have the ability to donate blood inside what the science permits to guarantee that the blood provide stays secure.
STEIN: Intercourse employees and intravenous drug customers would nonetheless be prohibited from donating, as would individuals who have examined constructive for HIV or are taking remedy to stop HIV an infection.
KELLY: And what sort of response has there been to this?
STEIN: You realize, it has been fairly constructive from advocates, medical teams and blood banks. The pandemic has exacerbated the issue of blood shortages. Here is Kate Fry from America’s Blood Facilities.
KATE FRY: The blood neighborhood may be very excited in regards to the proposed adjustments. We’ve got advocated for a decade now for a transfer to a person danger evaluation mannequin, so that is very welcome by blood facilities throughout the nation.
STEIN: She harassed that every one donated blood is fastidiously screened for HIV and that testing has improved dramatically to make sure the protection of the blood provide.
KELLY: Though you simply instructed me that this ban was initially put in place to attempt to shield the blood provide from HIV, is there any concern about this transfer from a well being perspective?
STEIN: Nicely, a lot of the specialists say that it appears cheap and the blood provide will nonetheless be secure, however there’s some advocates which might be saying that the adjustments do not go far sufficient. They are saying among the remaining restrictions are nonetheless pointless and homophobic, such because the prohibition towards folks taking remedy referred to as PrEP to scale back the chance for catching HIV. Here is Tony Morrison from the group GLAAD.
TONY MORRISON: Once we restrict and defer people who find themselves being proactive of their sexual well being, that stigmatizes them. The misperception is that folks on PrEP are extra promiscuous or that they’ve the next danger of HIV an infection. And that is, you realize, categorically false.
STEIN: So his group will proceed to foyer the FDA to additional ease restrictions.
KELLY: And briefly, Rob, what is the timeline on this?
STEIN: The proposed adjustments shall be open for public remark for 60 days. The FDA will then difficulty a closing rule in all probability later this 12 months, so monogamous homosexual males may begin donating blood once more for the primary time in a long time someday in 2023.
KELLY: Someday this 12 months. NPR well being correspondent Rob Stein. Thanks.
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