This past Monday, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) lifted its lifetime ban on blood donations from homosexual men. Since the start of the AIDS crisis in the early 1980s, the FDA banned all blood donations from gay and bisexual men in an effort to reduce HIV transmission in the blood supply. However, agency cited recent HIV scientific research and extensive consultations with external advisory committees to support its revised ruling.
There's still one big caveat though: Gay men can only donate blood if it's been at least 12 months since their last sexual contact with another man.
The restriction is due to a 10-day window between initial HIV infection and when it can be detected with standard blood screening techniques. According to the FDA, lifting the ban without any restrictions for gay and bisexual men would increase the risk of HIV transmission through the blood supply by 400%.
The US blood donation revision is in line with the policies in other countries like Australia, Japan, and the United Kingdom. However, many criticize that the decision falls short of equality, as it discriminates against homosexual relationships and prevents gay men in long-term relationships from participating in blood donations.