Breaking News
More () »

'We'll take any level of progress': Maine advocates react to FDA proposal easing blood donation restrictions for gay, bisexual men

LGBTQ+ rights organizations have criticized the FDA's current blood donor restrictions as discriminatory.

SACO, Maine — Gay and bisexual men will no longer have to abstain from sexual contact with another man for a three-month period in order to donate blood, according to a new proposal from the Food and Drug Administration. 

On Friday, the FDA announced in the draft guidelines that potential donors would now be screened with a questionnaire to evaluate their individual risk of HIV based on different factors, such as sexual behavior and recent partners.

"We’ll take any level of progress," Justin Chenette said alongside his husband Eduard in their Saco home. "I do think that this policy still perpetuates outdated stereotypes, and stigmas, and discriminatory practices."

Under the new proposed guidelines, the FDA says gay and bisexual men in monogamous relationships would be allowed to donate their blood, despite all blood being tested to make sure it's safe.

"It’s still predicated on the honor system," Chenette explained. "I could go in, and tell them what they want to hear and still donate blood. That dosen’t inspire confidence and safety, or transparency."

Chenette said he would like to see the guidelines based more on science and not stigma.

For years LGBTQ+ advocates have voiced frustration over the current policy they say is outdated and first put in place in the early day of the AIDS crisis. 

"This is a really good step," Gia Drew, executive director of Equality Maine, said. "We're excited that this process is gender inclusive, trans-inclusive, and really isn't about your sexual orientation. It's more about who you are and what your behaviors are." 

This proposal will be open for public comment for 60 days. The FDA will then review and consider all comments before finalizing this guidance.

More NEWS CENTER Maine stories

For the latest breaking news, weather, and traffic alerts, download the NEWS CENTER Maine mobile app.

Before You Leave, Check This Out