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Urgently Seeking Blood, FDA Eases Restrictions On Gay Men Who Want To Donate

Signs are posted at an intake area during blood drive last month in Las Vegas. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
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The FDA today significantly shortened the length of wait time for accepting blood donations from:

  • Men who have had sex with a man
  • Women who have had sex with gay or bisexual men
  • Those who have recently received tattoos and piercings

That time period has been reduced to three months from 12 months.
The change comes as the U.S. confronts a severe drop in the blood supply that officials describe as urgent and unprecedented.

Until a lifetime ban was lifted in 2015, gay men had been prohibited for more than 30 years from giving blood at all. The new policies were reached, according to the FDA, following recent studies and epidemiological data concluded that eligibility criteria can be modified without impacting the safety of the blood supply.

The FDA statement says:

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"Maintaining an adequate blood supply is vital to public health. Blood donors help patients of all ages — accident and burn victims, heart surgery and organ transplant patients and those battling cancer and other life-threatening conditions."

While LGBTQ advocates welcome the change, they argue the wait times should be eliminated entirely.