In January 2023, the Biden administration and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) took a significant step toward dismantling antiquated and discriminatory policy preventing gay and bisexual men from donating blood. The new policy moves away from discriminatory policy based on identity and toward a science-based, individualized risk assessment approach.
Click here to learn more about the progress made in Blood Donation policies and follow HRC’s efforts to drive change.
The updated guidance abandons the discriminatory deferral policy based on one’s identity within a group (i.e., gay, and bisexual men, and same gender loving men).
The updated guidance now requires all persons to be evaluated based on an individual donor assessment. All prospective donors will be asked the same questions, and if deemed eligible, can donate blood.
Prospective donors will not be asked if they are monogamous, or in a monogamous relationship.
Under the new guidance, all prospective donors will be asked the same set of questions about new or multiple sexual partners.
Those who do not report having new or multiple sexual partners and did not have anal sex in the past three months, may be eligible to donate, provided all other eligibility criteria are met.
Under the updated guidance, persons taking oral PrEP will be deferred for 3 months, while those taking injectable PrEP, will be deferred for 2 years.
While undetectable still equals non transmissible for sexual transmission, the same does not apply to transfusion transmission of HIV.
The basis for this deferral is grounded in current science. If a prospective donor using PrEP acquires HIV, it is possible that the medication could cause a false-negative test result because the virus has dropped to an undetectable level. That means a person taking PrEP/PEP could unknowingly transmit the virus to our nation’s blood supply.
The FDA guidance is very clear, that individuals should not stop taking their prescribed medications, including PrEP or PEP, in order to donate blood.
All prospective donors will be asked the same questions and complete the same Donor History Questionnaire.
With the new guidance, individuals will not be deferred simply because they had male-to-male sexual contact.
According to the Red Cross, as of August 7th, all of its blood centers are accepting newly eligible donors. The America’s Blood Centers are also in the process of accepting newly eligible donors.
All blood centers must update their computer systems and have them approved by FDA. As a result, each blood center will have their own timeframe for implementing the revised guidance.
Prospective donors are encouraged to contact their local blood center directly to learn if they, too, are now accepting newly eligible donors.
Yes. In fact, transgender women have been eligible to donate blood since December 2015.
Under the updated guidance, transgender men and other prospective donors will be evaluated based on the same eligibility criteria, and if they meet those criteria, will be able to donate blood.
According to America’s Blood Centers, approximately 3% of the U.S. population donates blood each year.
Modernizing the eligibility guidelines will expand the pool of eligible donors and has the potential to increase the blood supply and, in turn, help respond to blood shortages.
We have called on HHS and FDA to advance implementation of pathogen reduction technology that can inactivate pathogens like HIV, Zika, and many, many more.
Blood centers across the country have currently have this technology in place for use on plasma and platelets.
Similar technology for red blood cells is currently in Phase III clinical trials.
Individuals may be deferred from donating for a variety of reasons: recently traveling in a country where malaria is prevalent, taking a range of medications that could result in an adverse reaction if the blood were passed through transfusion.
We ask that all individuals who show up to donate be honest in response to the questions as they are the first line of defense in keeping the blood supply safe.
The FDA, HHS, blood centers, and patient advocates share the same goal -- ensuring the safety of the blood supply. These changes could not have been made without rigorous scientific review, and confidence that the blood supply would continue to be safe for all recipients.