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The Los Angeles Times on Thursday published an editorial calling for the Food and Drug Administration to scrap its policy that bars all sexually active gay men from donating blood, saying blood-screening safeguards should be based on science, not outdated preconceptions about groups most at risk for HIV infection. Currently, the FDA permanently bars all gay men who've had sex even one time with another man since 1971 from ever donating blood. The policy was enacted in the 1980s, when gay men accounted for the majority of HIV infections, as a way to lower the risk of HIV entering the nation's blood supply.
But better blood-screening technologies today make it highly unlikely for any infected blood from any donor to make it into the blood supply, according to the editorial. All donated blood is screened for nine infectious diseases, including two separate tests that are used to screen for HIV, the editorial says.
"There is no longer any scientific reason to continue" the ban because of these new screening methods, the editorial concludes. "Allowing men who have sex with men to donate would increase the blood supply and potentially save lives. Instead of a permanent ban, the editorial recommends a short-term ban of several weeks or months after having sex to ensure that HIV-positive gay and bisexual men unaware they were recently infected do not unknowingly donate infected blood. (The Advocate)