The researchers, who recruited about 1,600 gay and bisexual men from eight metropolitan areas, hope to identify a set of screening questions that can differentiate men who are more likely to have recently contracted HIV from those who are less likely to have have recently contracted the virus. .
Participants in the project, known as the ADVANCE study, answered a variety of questions about their recent risky behaviors, such as whether they had new sexual partners or taken pre-exposure prophylaxis medications, known under the name of PrEP, which reduce the risk of HIV infection, said Brian Custer, director of the Vitalant Research Institute and principal investigator of the study.
The participants’ blood was also tested for HIV and the antiretroviral drugs used in PrEP.
The researchers have already shared an interim analysis with the FDA and should have the final results ready before the end of the year, Dr. Custer said. He declined to provide more information on the preliminary results, citing a confidentiality agreement with the FDA, but said he expected the results to be informative for the agency.
“I really believe we have important information for the FDA to consider what an individual risk-based approach to donor screening might look like,” he said.
Susan Stramer, vice president of scientific affairs for the American Red Cross, said in a statement that the study aims to “make blood donation a more inclusive process while maintaining the safety of the blood supply.”
“While we have not been notified by the FDA of any policy changes at this time, the Red Cross looks forward to a future in which eligibility for donation is not based on sexual orientation, and more healthy people will be able to donate blood to help patients in need,” she said.
The current blood shortage is monitored daily by America’s Blood Centers, the trade association of 59 community facilities. On Wednesday, about a quarter of the centers, or 16, had less than a day’s supply.
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