Today (Dec. 21), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced it would be lifting its "32-year-old lifetime ban on blood donations from gay and bisexual men," the AP reports.
Though it's a step in the right direction, the FDA will only allow gay and bisexual men to donate blood if they've been abstinent for a year -- a requirement that's already been widely condemned by activists.
"It continues to stigmatize gay and bisexual men," David Stacy, Governor Affairs Director of the Human Rights Campaign, told the AP. "It simply cannot be justified in light of current scientific research and updated blood screening technology."
The FDA maintains the restrictions are "backed by sound scientific evidence," and that the organization "considered eliminating all restrictions on blood donations from gay and bisexual men, but concluded that would increase the transmission of HIV through the blood supply by 400 percent."
In November, France began to allow gay and bisexual men to donate blood -- but like in the U.S., donors can only give blood if they've been abstinent for a year. Australia, Japan and the U.K. have also adopted nearly identical policies.
According to The Daily Beast, "As far back as December 2014, the FDA reportedly acknowledged the issue and promised to lift the lifetime ban." In May, when the ban was being redrafted by the FDA, MTV News spoke to Jake Wilson, who'd created a parody PSA explaining why the ban is harmful.
"The policy is a complete double standard," Wilson said. "A straight female can abuse painkillers, smoke, drink, never have an HIV test, have unprotected sex with a different guy every night, and still donate blood. A healthy man who only had oral sex with another man once 10 months ago, and has had 3 HIV tests since then, cannot donate. There’s no scientific justification for the policy. It is straight-up discrimination."