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Lift U.S. Ban on Blood Donations by Gay Men, Experts Say
Date:7/28/2014

By
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, July 25, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- The United States should repeal a 30-year policy that bans blood donations from gay and bisexual men, according to a team of medical and legal experts writing this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Currently, a man who has ever had sex with another man cannot donate blood in the United States -- a lifetime ban that has been in place since 1983.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration adopted this policy at the dawn of the AIDS crisis. However, changing times and technological advances have rendered the decades-old ban obsolete, said JAMA article co-author Glenn Cohen, who directs Harvard Law School's Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology & Bioethics.

"We think it's time for the FDA to take a serious look at its policy, because it's out of step with peer countries, it's out of step with modern medicine, it's out of step with public opinion, and we feel it may be legally problematic," said Cohen, who co-wrote the article with Jeremy Feigenbaum of Harvard Law School and Dr. Eli Adashi of Brown University's medical school.

The lifetime ban for gay or bisexual men stands in contradiction to other FDA policies regarding people considered high-risk donors due to their sexual behavior, Cohen noted.

For example, there currently is a maximum one-year ban in the United States for blood donations by men who have had sex with an HIV-positive woman or commercial sex workers. The same goes for women who have had sex with HIV-positive men.

By implementing a lifetime ban on donation from sexually active gay or bisexual males, "you're giving a 'scarlet letter' of sorts to these men," Cohen said.

The policy also stands in stark contrast to rec
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