A quarter-century after the US started barring gay men from donating blood, Department of Health and Human Services experts are deciding whether to lift the lifetime ban, HealthDay News reports. The policy was instituted in 1985, as public consciousness of HIV/AIDS grew. "There was good reason for it, based on the testing technologies we had at the time," says an AIDS activist.
Testing technology now allows for reliable HIV detection within 2 weeks of infection, and many consider the ban overkill. The Red Cross, the Association of Blood Banks, and America's Blood Centers recommend that gay men be allowed to donate as long as 12 months have passed since their last sexual encounter. The move would increase the perennially overtaxed donor blood supply by 90,000 pints annually, experts estimate.