Gay groups say new policy is the right step, but not far enough
WASHINGTON - Gay rights activists say a new federal policy on blood donations is a "step in the right direction," but that it still falls short.
Health officials are no longer banning blood donations from gay and bisexual men for their entire lifetimes. But the new policy still bars donations from men who've had sex with a man in the previous year. And that's also the policy in effect in other countries, including Japan and the U.K.
David Stacy of the Human Rights Campaign says the policy "continues to stigmatize gay and bisexual men." And he says it's a policy that "cannot be justified in light of current scientific research and updated blood screening technology."
The lifetime ban was put in place during the early years of the AIDS crisis and was intended to protect the blood supply from what was a then little-understood disease. But many medical groups, including the American Medical Association, argued that the policy was no longer supported by science, given advances in HIV testing.
All U.S. blood donations are screened for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. But there is a roughly 10-day window between initial infection and when the virus can be detected in the bloodstream.
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