PARIS, Nov. 4 (UPI) -- France announced the lifting of a ban of blood donations by gay men, a policy in place since 1983.
The new program will slowly be phased in, beginning with acceptance of blood donations from gay men who say on a questionnaire they have not been sexually active in the past 12 months.
The prior policy, in which men who admitted to sex with another man were permanently excluded from the blood donation process, was established to prevent the spread of HIV.
Partial donations of blood plasma will be accepted from men who have had sexual relations with a single male partner in the past four months. Those donations will be quarantined for 10 weeks before use.
"Giving blood is an act of generosity, of civic responsibility, and the donor's sexual orientation cannot be a condition. While respecting patient safety, today we are lifting a taboo," French Health Minister Marisol Touraine said in Paris.
The change in policy was lauded by gay rights organizations, who strongly opposed what they regarded as a discriminatory practice.
Yohann Roszéwitch. president of the French gay rights organization SOS Homophobia said in a statement the group "welcomes the end of this systematic exclusion... but strongly regrets the continued discrimination based on sexual orientation."
The move comes after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued draft guidance in May recommending the United States lift its ban on accepting blood donations from gay men. The FDA is accepting feed back on the guidance and is expected to finalize its recommendations in the coming months, an administration representative told UPI on Wednesday.