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Brazilian Gay & Bi Men Can Now Donate Blood Without Abstinence Period

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The South American nation's supreme court has overturned the ban.

Gay and bi men can now donate blood without restrictions in Brazil.

The South American country's Supreme Federal Court has overturned a law requiring men who have sex with men to wait one year since their last same-sex experience before giving plasma.

Seven of the 11 supreme court justices voted to lift the ban, joining Justice Edson Fachin, who said it was discriminatory in his opinion.

"Instead of the state enabling these people to promote good by donating blood, it unduly restricts solidarity based on prejudice and discrimination," wrote Fachin in his vote, reports The Guardian.

Activists and allies hailed the ruling. "A historic victory for the LGBT population!" declared Sao Paulo politician Samia Bomfim on Twitter. "And the measure benefits everyone who needs donations, as blood stocks are almost always insufficient."

Restrictions on MSM blood donations originate from the height of the AIDS crisis, when health officials feared that blood transfusions from at-risk groups could spread HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

Several nations, including the United States, have eased these restrictions in the wake of the current health pandemic, in which blood and plasma donations (from those with COVID-19 antibodies) are desperately needed.

In April, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration shortened the deferral period for gay and bisexual men who want to donate blood to three months, down from one year.

However, many have argued that any ban only perpetuates stigma and is no longer necessary with current testing technology and advancements in HIV prevention like PrEP.

"The FDA's decision to lower the deferral period on men who have sex with men from 12 months to 3 months is a step towards being more in line with science, but remains imperfect," GLAAD's Sarah Kate Ellis said at the time. "We will keep fighting until the deferral period is lifted and gay and bi men, and all LGBTQ people, are treated equal to others."

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