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Higgins announces FDA action to examine gay blood donation ban

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Thu, Jul 28th 2016 01:30 pm

FDA invites comments on blood donor deferral policy

Congressman Brian Higgins, D-NY-26, announced a step toward the goal of a change in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration policy banning gay blood donations.

On Thursday, the FDA opened a public docket to allow for comments on its current blood donor deferral policy for gay men. Written or electronic comments will be accepted through Nov. 25. For more information, visit https://federalregister.gov/a/2016-17804.

In the early 1980s, the FDA instituted a policy creating a lifetime ban on blood donations from gay and bisexual men. In December, the FDA updated its guidance from a total deferral to one requiring 12-months of abstinence for gay men prior to donations.

Higgins, a member of the congressional LGBT equality caucus, has pushed for change. He said, "The FDA rule on blood donations is antiquated and prejudicial. This action by the FDA signals that the agency is willing to listen and move toward a policy based on science rather than sexual orientation."

In December of 2014, Higgins and other members called on the secretary of health and human services to change blood donation criteria. Late last year, the congressman joined "Blood is Blood" and the Pride Center of WNY for a local rally against the FDA rule. Most recently, he was among those calling for the FDA to change its policy in a letter and on Capitol Hill, following the tragedy in Orlando.

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