THE U.S. may lift its restrictions on gay men donating blood in America, after asking the public for suggested revisions to the country’s current blood donor policies.

Earlier this week the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) posted a request for public comment on America’s blood donor policies, particularly those focused on reducing the risk of HIV.

Gay men in the US are currently only able to donate blood if they have been abstinent from sex for a year, a policy that overtook a complete ban last year.

Many medical groups, advocates, and lawmakers have called the policy discriminatory.

Vice-Chair of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus and U.S. Representative, Mike Quigley, believes the recent call for public recommendations may provoke positive change.

“I’m encouraged by the announcement that the FDA will look into policy solutions in order to move away from discriminatory time-based deferrals,” he said in a statement.

“The tragedy at Pulse nightclub in Orlando highlighted the discrimination gay and bisexual men face when attempting to donate blood to those in need.”

Many advocates including Quigley have spoken in favour of moving away from a time-based ban to a new policy that takes into account an individual’s risk of HIV.

“While this potential policy change could have a positive impact on men who have sex with men (MSM) and other marginalised donors, it would also make our blood supply safer,” Quigley said.

“Moving towards an individual risk assessment would provide for a fair, equitable, non-discriminatory blood donation policy.”

The FDA’s original blanket ban on blood donations by gay men was implemented as a means to prevent HIV transmission, when there was no simple way to detect the virus.

In an email to TIME, an FDA spokesperson said the call out is part of a continued effort to assess current donor deferral policies.

“We invite interested persons to submit to the docket comments supported by scientific evidence regarding possible revisions to FDA’s blood donor deferral policies,” they said.

In Australia, gay men may only donate if they have abstained from male to male sex for 12 months.

 

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