(CBS) — Gay rights advocates say the new federal policy on blood donations is a step forward — but just a small step.

For three decades, the government guideline has banned gay men from ever donating blood because of the potential risk of HIV.

Now, the guideline is this: Gay men may donate blood if they’ve been sexually abstinent for a year.

Dr. Magda Houlberg, chief clinical officer of Howard Brown Health, says HIV is in other populations, too, not just gay men. The new guideline enforces a stigma.

“I think a lot of gay men carry that with them, which is, they feel like people might think that they’re something ‘less than,’” she says. “Their blood is just as good as anyone else’s.  We really just need to have our activities directed by science as opposed to fear, or stigma.”

Dr. Houlberg says she has patients who say they want to donate blood as a civic duty.