The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently recommended a policy change, lifting a decades-long ban on blood donation by men who have sex with men. Along with other government agencies, FDA examined available scientific evidence, including recent studies and epidemiologic data. “Following this review, and taking into account the recommendations of advisory committees to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the FDA, the agency will take the necessary steps to recommend a change to the blood donor deferral period for men who have sex with men from indefinite deferral to one year since the last sexual contact,” the agency explained in a press release.

The change falls in line with recommendations by the independent advisory panel, HHS Advisory Committee on Blood and Tissue Safety and Availability, and it “will better align the deferral period with that of other men and women at increased risk for HIV infection,” the press release stated. FDA also collaborated with the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute to implement a nationwide blood surveillance system that will allow for monitoring the policy change’s effects and will ensure continued safety of the country’s blood supply.

FDA plans to issue draft guidance this year recommending this policy change, which will be followed by public comment. “We encourage all stakeholders to take this opportunity to provide any information the agency should consider, and look forward to receiving and reviewing these comments,” according to the press release.

Read FDA’s full statement online.