FDA Weighs Lifting Ban on Blood Donations From Gay Men

Advisers for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will meet next week to decide whether gay men should be allowed to donate blood, the agency’s biggest step yet toward changing the 30-year-old prohibition.

If the FDA accepts the recommendation from its advisory board, it would roll back a policy that has faced mounting criticism from LGBT advocates and some members of Congress for more than four years.

“We’ve got the ball rolling. I feel like this is a tide-turning vote,” said Ryan James Yessak, an LGBT activist who founded the National Gay Blood Drive and will speak at next week’s meeting. “There’s been a lot of feet dragging and I think they’re realizing it now.”

Reconsidering the policy will be the first agenda item for the Advisory Blood Products Advisory Committee when it meets Dec. 2

Critics of the ban, which was enacted during the national AIDS epidemic in 1983 and was last updated in 1992, say it ignores mounds of scientific evidence concluding that blood donations pose no risk than the greater public if properly screened.

Groups such as the American Red Cross and America’s Blood Centers voiced support for the policy change this month, calling the ban “medically and scientifically unwarranted.” The American Medical Association voted to end the ban last summer.