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FDA Proposes End To Lifetime Ban On Gay Blood Donors

Updated at 1:42 p.m. ET

Men who haven't had sexual contact with other men in a year will be allowed to donate blood under a policy change the Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday it will recommend.

In a statement, the agency said it had "carefully examined and considered the available scientific evidence" and 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."

A draft guidance recommending the proposed change will be issued in 2015, the agency said. There will also be a period of public comment.

A ban on gay and bisexual blood donors has been in effect since the early 1980s when fears about HIV/AIDS were widespread.

NPR's Rob Stein tells our Newscast unit:

"Advocates have been pushing to discard that policy for years, saying it's outdated and discriminatory. The decision was welcomed by some gay-rights groups. But some say the one-year ban is still unnecessary and offensive. At the same time, others are concerned any change could let a small number of HIV-positive donors slip through the screening system."

Australia, Britain and Japan have policies similar to the one the FDA backed Tuesday.

Stein also reported on the debate earlier this month.