The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the US government body that deals with the regulation of food and pharmaceutical products, has announced formally that gay and bisexual men will also be able to donate blood. As in other countries, a ban on donating blood for men who had sex with men in the context of the HIV/AIDS epidemic was introduced in the United States in the 1980s.
The idea on which these restrictions or bans were based – and which were in some way justified by the need for security – was that an entire category of people engaged in sexually irresponsible behavior or were potentially carriers of a sexually transmitted disease. Over the years, as knowledge about HIV and how it is infected has improved, these restrictions have gradually lost their meaning and several countries have changed them.
Under the new policy, the FDA will evaluate all potential donors against the same set of criteria, asking everyone questions about possible recent high-risk sexual activity. People taking pre-exposure prophylaxis (PRrEP) or post-exposure prophylaxis – drugs commonly used to prevent HIV infection – are also advised not to donate. The agency said the use of these drugs could delay the detection of HIV and thus produce false negative results in a screening test.