FDA launch study which could lift blood donation restrictions for gay and bi men

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Earlier this year, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in America eased its restrictions on blood donation by gay and bisexual men, bringing down the deferral period from one year to three months. The move was taken to allow more blood donors during the coronavirus pandemic and now a new pilot scheme could remove blood restrictions permanently. The pilot scheme, called Assessing Donor Variability and New Concepts in Eligibility is looking for 2,000 men to be recruited from community health centres in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Memphis, Atlanta, Orlando, Miami, Washington, D.C. and Baton Rouge. It is being fronted by three of the biggest blood donation centres in the United States, Vitalant, OneBlood and the American Red Cross. The participants need to have had sex with another man within the past three months and be willing to donate blood, with the results potentially changing the questionnaire that the FDA uses to decide whether someone is eligible to donate blood. A statement on the Advance website reads: “If the scientific evidence supports the use of the different questions, it could mean men who have sex with men who present to donate would be assessed based upon their own individual risk for HIV infection and not according to when their last sexual contact with another man occurred.” This would mean a swap away from a time-based deferral period to an individual-risk based system.

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