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.

Top Ten Questions on Updated FDA Blood Donation Guidance

Advocating for Change

HRC has been at the forefront
in the decades-long effort to update the policy, alongside other advocates.

Nearly 15 years ago in 2010, HRC renewed its call to change the policy to be more fully inclusive of LGBTQ Americans.

In 2015, following a new change to the policy that required gay and bisexual to be abstinent for a year, HRC again affirmed that this approach was unacceptable. HRC believes further investment in technologies and research – such as technology to reduce pathogens in red blood cells currently in Phase III Clinical Trials – is needed to enable even more individuals to donate whole blood.

In 2020, HRC sent a letter to the FDA urging the agency to make swift changes to the policy in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, which led to thousands of blood drives being canceled across the country. HRC has repeatedly asked for changes to the federal policy on blood donations, since the FDA adopted its initial, discriminatory policy in 1983.

In August 2023, the American Red Cross implemented the FDA’s updated final guidance regarding an individual donor assessment for all blood donors regardless of gender or sexual orientation. This change eliminated previous FDA eligibility criteria based on sexual orientation.

They encourage individuals who believe they may now be eligible to give under the new guidelines to visit to learn more about donor eligibility requirements that help ensure the safety of both blood donors and blood recipients.
The FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research regulates and establishes standards for the collection of blood and blood products. The center receives advice on this issue from the Blood Products Advisory Council, which meets regularly to consider issues such as altering the pool of potential blood donors.

In a 2023 HRC survey, nearly 90 percent of respondents believe the federal government needs to “prioritize investing in more technologies and research to allow more people to donate blood.” The technology exists today to prevent transmission of certain pathogens such as HIV in plasma and platelets.

The Human Rights Campaign reports on news, events and resources of the Human Rights Campaign Foundation that are of interest to the general public and further our common mission to support the LGBTQ+ community.