December 23, 2014

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: 212-549-266, media@aclu.org

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced today a change in the current lifetime ban on blood donations from gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men. The proposal would replace the lifetime ban with a one-year deferral, which would only permit gay and bisexual men to donate blood if they have not had sex with another man in the past year.  The proposal would treat all sexual relationships between men the same way that heterosexual sex is treated when it involves a commercial sex worker or an individual who is known to be living with HIV.

"The FDA’s proposal must be seen as part of an ongoing process and not an end point," said Ian Thompson, a legislative representative in the ACLU's Washington Legislative Office. "The reality for most gay and bisexual men – including those in committed, monogamous relationships – is that this proposal will continue to function as a de facto lifetime ban. Criteria for determining blood donor eligibility should be based on science, not outdated, discriminatory stereotypes and assumptions."

The FDA blood donation policy, which has been in place since 1983, prohibits any man who has had sex with another man, even one time, since 1977 from donating blood. The American Civil Liberties Union previously submitted comments urging the FDA to reassess its policy based on current scientific evidence.

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