FDA to end ban on gay & bi men donating blood

FDA blood donation proposal, gay, bisexual, queer men, rules, PrEP, HIV, Man,Donating,Blood,In,Hospital
Photo: Shutterstock

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) just announced that it is taking steps towards allowing gay and bi men to donate blood in the U.S. by switching to risk-based rules for blood donation.

The FDA finalized recommendations for determining donor eligibility by using the same questions for everyone who wants to donate, similar to how the U.K., Canada, and France currently determine risk. The policy will not exclude gay and bi men or women who have had sex with a bi man but instead focus on the number of sexual partners a potential donor has had in the previous three months.

“We are moving now to an inclusive policy for blood donation,” said Dr. Peter Marks of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research. “We will continue to work to make sure that we have policies that allow everyone who wants to donate blood to be able to donate blood within what the science allows to make sure that the blood supply remains safe.”

In 1983, the FDA banned all men who had sex with another man since 1977 from donating blood, as well as women who had sex with any man who had also had sex with a man.

In 2015, the FDA lowered the lifetime ban to a 12-month deferral period since the last time a man had sex with another man. The latest change reduced the deferral period to three months in 2020 in response to a shortage of blood donations during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

Now potential donors will be asked if they have had more than one sexual partner or a new sexual partner in the previous three months. People who have will be deferred, regardless of their or their partners’ genders. People taking PrEP will not be eligible for blood donation.

Blood banks already routinely test blood for HIV.

LGBTQ+ organizations, the American Medical Association, and the American Red Cross have pushed for this change for years.

“These changes are 40-plus years in the making and they’re a tremendous leap forward in elevating science over stigma,” said GLAAD’s Tony Morrison. He added that the ban on donations from people who use PrEP to prevent HIV transmission still “stigmatizes them.”

“The misconception is that people on PrEP are promiscuous or have a higher risk of HIV infection — that’s categorically false,” he said.

“The FDA has worked diligently to evaluate our policies and ensure we had the scientific evidence to support individual risk assessment for donor eligibility while maintaining appropriate safeguards to protect recipients of blood products,” Dr. Marks said in a statement. “The implementation of these recommendations will represent a significant milestone for the agency and the LGBTQI+ community.”

“The FDA is committed to working closely with the blood collection industry to help ensure timely implementation of the new recommendations and we will continue to monitor the safety of the blood supply once this individual risk-based approach is in place.”

The proposed changes will be open to public comment for 60 days. If implemented, gay and bi men could start donating blood in the U.S. by the end of the year.

Don't forget to share:

Good News is your section for queer joy! Subscribe to our newsletter to get the most positive and fun stories from the site delivered to your inbox every weekend. Send us your suggestions for uplifiting and inspiring stories.

Support vital LGBTQ+ journalism

Reader contributions help keep LGBTQ Nation free, so that queer people get the news they need, with stories that mainstream media often leaves out. Can you contribute today?

Cancel anytime · Proudly LGBTQ+ owned and operated

Lesbian bar denied insurance coverage because it hosts drag shows

Previous article

Kennedy family reportedly unhappy with lesbian granddaughter’s IVF plans

Next article