FDA Finalizes New Blood Donation Guidelines

Image copyright: AP [via NPR]

The Facts

  • On Thursday, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommended new guidelines for blood donations that would ease restrictions on men who have intercourse with other men (MSM) in a move that's expected to alleviate blood supply shortages.

  • The new guidelines replace time-based deferrals — that were only applied to MSM and women who have intercourse with MSM — with a new risk-based assessment for all donors.

The Spin

Narrative A

It's about time the FDA catches up with science and ends its discriminatory policy. For decades the LGBTQ+ community has been excluded from donating blood with blanket measures while the blood supply continued to drop lower and lower. After years of pseudo changes, the agency is finally hearing and listening to gay rights advocacy groups and moving toward inclusive practices that serve the greater good.

Narrative B

While critics have been upset about the previous rules that impaired members of the LGTBQ+ community from donating blood, the practice was rooted in public safety. Epidemiologically, there’s a higher risk of getting HIV in men who have sex with other men, and the policies were introduced in the 1980s when blood banks had limited abilities to test blood products. While the guidelines may have been outdated, they were far from discriminatory.

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