FDA lifts ban on gay men donating blood, but may take some time to see change

FDA lifts ban on gay men donating blood, but may take some time to see change

Amarillo, TX - The U.S. government has overturned a rule set in place for 30 years.

The FDA has announced gay men can now donate blood. But it seems it's really not that simple. There are still hoops they will have to jump through and it will take some time.

On Monday the Food and Drug Administration said its decision to reverse the policy was based on an examination of the latest science.

That science showed an indefinite ban is not necessary to prevent transmission of HIV.

But there are stipulations.

"The question as it reads right now is...any male that has had sex with another male since 1977 is deferred indefinitely which means they can't ever donate blood. So if that was an experimental situation one time, they cannot ever donate blood. The new question will read something to the effect of..if a male has previously had sex with another male but has been celibate, abstinent for 12 months, then they would be able to donate blood," says Suzanne Talley with Coffee Memorial Blood Center.

But how would they prove their celibacy? Talley says they are basing it off the "honor system."

However the new rule is still facing some backlash. Gay rights advocates say the policy remains discriminatory.

"I don't think it's what they were lobbying for because unfortunately if you are in a committed, monogamous with someone that's been tested and you're actively involved with that person, they're still not going to be able to donate blood and so I think that that's going to continue to result in some lobbying for this deferral to change again," says Talley.

While the lifted ban is official, Talley says it will be months before they are able to take a donation.

"They will revise our donor questionnaire for all the blood centers across the nation and then we will begin utilizing that, but we have to make that ready and all of our computer systems as well, so once we receive that revised questionnaire, implement the computer system and revise all of our SOPs and so forth, it'll be several months down the road."

Talley says although the new rule will open up more room for people to donate, the blood center is always in need.