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FDA Outlines Change On Lifetime Blood Ban From Gay Men

The FDA released new guidelines that end its longstanding policy barring gay men from donating blood, but critics say it's still behind the times.

By Kate Grumke | May 12, 2015

Tuesday the Food and Drug Administration released the outline of its new guidelines for blood donations from gay men.

The drafted recommendations would make it possible for men who have had sex with men to donate blood for the first time in 30 years, but that's only if they haven't had sex with another man for a year. (Video via American Red Cross)

According to the FDA's recommendation, 7 percent of men report they have ever had sex with another man. That number goes down to 4 percent with men who have had sex with another man in the past five years.

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Although this recommendation does take away the lifetime ban for gay men, it has been met with criticism from gay rights advocates since it was announced in December. Critics say say blood donation bans should be based on risky behavior instead of sexual orientation or whether a person has been celibate. 

"Now if you're gay and you want to save lives, the FDA will let you. You just can't have sex for an entire year. That's right. 365 days of celibacy. Introducing the celibacy challenge," actor Alan Cumming said in a GLAAD video.

The FDA cited success in countries including Japan, the U.K., Brazil and Australia — which also have one-year celibacy policies — as a reason for the policy change. It also cited more effective blood screening tests.

There will now be a 60-day public comment period for the recommendations.

 This video includes images from Getty Images.

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