FDA funding study around blood donations from gay men

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The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is funding a study around blood donations by gay or bisexual men.

ABC News reported on Tuesday that the study, Assessing Donor Variability and New Concepts in Eligibility (Advance), is underway, and aims evaluate whether donor deferral criteria can be based on individual risks assessment. The study aims to present data to the FDA by late 2021.

The study could lead to the complete removal of restrictions around donations by gay or bisexual men, according to the news outlet.

“The FDA remains committed to considering alternatives to time-based deferral by generating the scientific evidence that is intended to support an individual risk assessment-based blood donor questionnaire,” the agency said in a statement to The Hill.

They will evaluate 2,000 men who have had sex with men and want to donate blood, and could generate data to help the agency decide if a questionnaire based on individual risk assessments is just as effective for reducing the risk of HIV, according to the statement.

American Red Cross, Vitalant and OneBlood will be involved, as well as local LGBTQ+ community centers, ABC reports.

The FDA loosened restrictions on gay men donating blood in April after the coronavirus pandemic caused a blood shortage. The agency recommended a three-month deferral for men who have sex with men, as opposed to a full-year ban.

The United Kingdom followed suit on Monday, eliminating a three-month ban for men who had anal or oral sex with another man after a health committee found that a blanket ban on donations was unnecessary.

Many of the restrictions were introduced during the AIDS crisis in the 1980s, but many nations have rolled them back.

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