The United States' Food and Drug Administration announced on Monday that it is lifting its lifetime ban on accepting blood donations from gay men, CNN reported. “The FDA is changing its recommendation that men who have sex with men be indefinitely 12 months since the last sexual contact with another man,” it said. The ban had been implemented in 1983 at the onset of the AIDS crisis.

The decision comes after several years of scientific research and consultation with external advisory committees and other government agencies. FDA acting commissioner Stephen Ostroff said, “We have taken great care to ensure this policy revision is backed by sound science and continues to protect our blood supply.”

LGBT civil rights advocacy group Human Rights Campaign said the FDA revision was a “step in the right direction”, but believes that it “still falls short of a fully acceptable solution as it continues to stigmatise gay and bisexual men”. Deputy director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research Dr Peter Marks said that the year-long celibacy requirement for gay men is backed by scientific evidence relevant to the US population.