US may lift lifetime ban on gay blood donations

Washington: The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced its plans to lift a lifetime ban on blood donations by gay men, allowing those who have not had sexual contact with other men in a year to do so.

The FDA said in a statement Tuesday it "carefully examined and considered the available scientific evidence" and "will take the necessary steps to recommend a change to the blood donor deferral period for men who have sex with men from indefinite deferral to one year since the last sexual contact", Xinhua reported.

"This recommended change is consistent with the recommendation of an independent expert advisory panel... and will better align the deferral period with that of other men and women at increased risk for HIV infection," FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg said in the statement.

A draft guidance recommending this proposed change will be issued in 2015, the FDA said.

The FDA's ban on gay blood donations dated back to 1983, when the risk of AIDS from transfusion was first recognised.

Men who have had sex with other men represent about two percent of the US population, yet are the population most severely affected by HIV, according to the agency.

In 2010, men who have had sex with other men accounted for at least 61 percent of all new HIV infections in the US and an estimated 77 percent of diagnosed HIV infections among males were attributed to male-to-male sexual contact.

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