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FDA Set to Reverse Three-Decade Ban Against Gay Men Donating Blood

Update Date: Nov 30, 2014 05:25 PM EST
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A three-decade ban on gay men donating blood could be reversed later this week by US's Food and Drug Administration (FDA) .

The ban was enacted in 1983 at the height of AIDS epidemic in US, as scientists were struggling to understand the disease HIV caused. The ban came into place amidst heightened concerns about an immune deficiency disease among gay men, The Washington Post reported. Ever since, men who have sex with other men, are barred from donating blood given fears about risks of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections associated.

"Men who have had sex with other men (MSM), at any time since 1977 (the beginning of the AIDS epidemic in the United States) are currently deferred as blood donors. This is because MSM are, as a group, at increased risk for HIV, hepatitis B and certain other infections that can be transmitted by transfusion," FDA says on its website.

However growing demands from gay rights organizations, medical groups and law makers has moved FDA to reconsider the ban. An advisory group for human and health services voiced a demand for removal of the ban, which has been termed has lacking any scientific evidence.

Experts have also demanded that FDA replace ban with a deferral period lasting up to one year, which is sufficient time for infections to show up. They have argued that the US should lift such bans when other countries have done away with similar bans, replacing them with deferrals, IB Times reported.

The FDA maintains that there are currently no ways to determine those among the gay community with low risk of infection.

"Having had a low number of partners is known to decrease the risk of HIV infection. However, to date, no donor eligibility questions have been shown to reliably identify a subset of MSM (e.g., based on monogamy or safe sexual practices) who do not still have a substantially increased rate of HIV infection compared to the general population or currently accepted blood donors," the agency said on its website.

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