An advisory committee for the Department of Health and Human Services recommended on Thursday that the U.S. soften its ban on blood donations from gay men.
But the new recommendations are hardly a snap: Gay men would have to be abstinent for a year before being allowed to donate blood.
Under the current regulations, men who have had sex with other men are essentially banned from donating blood for life.
Reaction to this new advisory has been mixed.
"It is promising to see that the U.S. appears poised to move away from the current lifetime ban that prevents gay and bisexual men from donating blood," said the ACLU in a statement. "However, the proposed one-year deferral will prevent two men who maintain a committed, monogamous relationship from ever donating blood. This proposed policy does not distinguish between high risk and safer-sex practices.”
The Human Rights Campaign said the recommendation "falls far short" and continues to stigmatize gay and bisexual men: “The current policy, adopted in the earliest days of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and the new recommendation are both simply wrong and can no longer be justified in light of scientific research and updated blood screening technology," said David Stacy, HRC’s Government Affairs Director. "It’s far past time for this stigma to end.”
The American Red Cross, the American Association of Blood Banks and America’s Blood Centers have all called the current ban "medically and scientifically unwarranted."
The Food and Drug Administration will consider the report after hearing from other experts next month at the Blood Products Advisory Committee meeting.
h/t: Bloomberg News