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  WINDY CITY TIMES

FDA funding blood-donation study about gay, bisexual men
2020-12-16

This article shared 760 times since Wed Dec 16, 2020
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On the heels of news that England has mostly relaxed regulations regarding blood donations from gay and bisexual men, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is funding a study around blood donations by men in those demographics, The Hill reported, citing ABC News.

Assessing Donor Variability and New Concepts in Eligibility (ADVANCE) is underway, with the goal of evaluating if donor deferral criteria can be based on individual risks assessment. The study aims to present data to the FDA by late 2021.

The study—which is evaluating 2,000 men—could lead to the complete removal of restrictions around donations by gay or bisexual men. American Red Cross, Vitalant and OneBlood will be involved, as well as local LGBTQ+ community centers.

Many of the restrictions were introduced during the AIDS crisis in the 1980s, but many nations have rolled them back. Regarding the study, Howard Brown Health Director of Policy and Advocacy Tim Wang emailed Windy City Times, "We are encouraged by the news of the FDA's ADVANCE pilot study, which is a critical first step in changing our current blood donation policies from a blanket time deferral for men who have sex with men (MSM) to an individualized risk assessment. In the past few years, we've seen the FDA move away from a lifetime blood donation ban for MSM, to a 12 month deferral, to a 3 month deferral earlier this year at the start of the pandemic.

"While these have all been positive policy changes, blanket deferrals for all men who have had sex with another man within a set time period—even when the sexual activities involved are low to no risk for HIV transmission—are stigmatizing. Furthermore, our nation's blood supply is now routinely screened with tests that can detect HIV well within a three month period. Moving toward individual risk assessment for blood donation is in line with current HIV screening technology, moves away from stigmatizing and discriminatory policies against MSM and will ensure a robust blood supply by expanding the pool of potential donors."


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