State and Territorial Health Officials Applaud FDA's Decision to Improve US Blood Supply

State and Territorial Health Officials Applaud FDA’s Decision to Improve US Blood Supply

ARLINGTON, Will, Jan. 30, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — The Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) commends the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) new proposal to conduct individual risk assessments for blood donors. This will ensure that the United States has a safe and robust blood supply and that blood donation policies reflect the best available science while not promoting stigma and discrimination against historically excluded groups.

“The proposed change to blood donation deferral recommendations is a significant step forward towards aligning blood donation policies with current science,” says Michael Fraser, PhD, CEO of ASTHO. “Assessing eligibility based on individual risk will safely expand the pool of eligible blood donors, and the FDA’s policy is a step in the right direction.”

In December 2022ASTHO released its Blood and Blood Product Donation Policy Statement, which recommended that FDA update its policies to align with the latest science, safely increase the number of eligible blood donors to help ensure a robust national blood supply, and reduce stigma associated with identity-based deferral policies. ASTHO is pleased that the proposed recommendations call for revision of the current donor history questionnaire to ask all prospective donors about new or multiple sexual partners in the past three months.

“The FDA’s proposed policy change driven by data and science will increase the supply of blood to save lives, end the discriminatory categorical exclusion of gay and bisexual men, and protect the safety of blood supply based on what people do and not who people are, ” says Elizabeth Cuervo Tilson, MD, MPH, state health director and chief medical officer of North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. “I am grateful that ASTHO and many state health officials joined in advocating for this important change.”

The proposal guidance would still defer donations from all prospective donors who report having a new sexual partner or more than one sexual partner and had anal sex in the past three months, which does not account for safer-sex practices, other sexual risk (vaginal sex ), or current HIV detection screening technology. As more data and research is available, the deferral of individuals currently benefiting from HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis should be re-examined more closely, ensuring that this exclusion is following current science and not causing unintended stigma against those using this important HIV prevention tool.

ASTHO is the national nonprofit organization representing the public health agencies of the United Statesthe US territories and Freely Associated States, and Washington, D.C., as well as the more than 100,000 public health professionals these agencies employ. ASTHO members, the chief health officials of these jurisdictions, are dedicated to formulating and influencing sound public health policy and to ensuring excellence in public health practice.

SOURCE Association of State and Territorial Health Officials

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