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FDA to lift ban on blood donation by gay and bisexual men

The Food and Drug Administration announced Tuesday that it will put an end to the lifetime ban on blood donation by gay and bisexual men, but will keep in place a block on donations by men who have had sex with other men within the last 12 months.

The ban was enacted in 1983 during the early days of the AIDS epidemic, when doctors still didn't know much about what caused the disease, and activists say the rule should have been overturned long ago. "This is a major victory for gay civil rights," I. Glenn Cohen, a law professor at Harvard University who specializes in bioethics and health, told The New York Times. "We're leaving behind the old view that every gay man is a potential infection source." However, he added that the policy was "still not rational enough."

Under these new guidelines, The Williams Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles, said that 317,000 pints of blood could be added to the nation's supply.