The FDA announced today that it will lift its lifetime ban on blood donations from gay and bisexual men, the Los Angeles Times reports. Instead, men who have had sex with men will be allowed to donate blood one year after last having sexual contact with another man, the FDA commissioner said in a statement, adding that the FDA will "take the necessary steps" to put the new policy into action. Activists have railed against the 31-year-old ban, the AP reports, and the new policy would put the US in line with other countries including the UK, Australia, and Japan.
The ban was implemented in the early days of the AIDS crisis and was meant to prevent the spread of HIV, but the American Medical Association and other medical groups say science no longer supports such a ban, since HIV testing has come so far. The new policy will put gay and bisexual men in the same category as other blood donors who are at an increased risk for HIV. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has started implementing a blood surveillance system to ensure the blood supply remains safe after the new policy takes hold. (Read more gay men stories.)