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FDA changes blood donor rules for gay and heterosexual donors

The new policy allows men who are in a monogamous sexual relationship with a man to donate blood.
FDA changes blood donor rules for gay and heterosexual donors
Posted at 12:07 PM, May 11, 2023

The Food and Drug Administration said it has finalized its recommendations for blood donations that will likely allow more gay men to donate blood. 

The new recommendations will also have an impact on heterosexual people. The FDA previously had stipulated that any man who had sex with another man within the past three months would be excluded from donating. The new recommendations would allow gay men in monogamous relationships the ability to donate blood.  

According to the new FDA rules, all potential blood donors will be asked questions about their recent sexual history. Those with a new sexual partner in the past three months, who have had multiple sexual partners in the past three months, or who have had anal sex in the past three months will all be excluded from donating. Additionally, those who take medications to treat or prevent HIV will be excluded from donating. 

Many in the LGBTQ community have claimed the FDA's policies were discriminatory and not based on science. The FDA previously said that its policies were in place to reduce the spread of HIV. Nearly 60% of HIV infections are made through male-to-male sexual contact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

SEE MORE: FDA moves to ease rules for blood donations from gay men

"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. The implementation of these recommendations will represent a significant milestone for the agency and the LGBTQI+ community," said Peter Marks, director of the FDA's Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research. "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 American Red Cross previously said it would welcome changes to the rules.

"We are grateful to the many stakeholders who have participated in this effort and advocated for change, including researchers, study participants, and LGBTQ+ community partners," the American Red Cross said when the recommendations were initially proposed. 

The FDA said the new recommendations come after reviewing data, including from other countries that have similar policies. 

"This scientific information has given the agency a solid foundation to support this new policy," the FDA said. "The FDA strongly believes the implementation of an individual risk-based approach will not adversely affect the safety or availability of the U.S. blood supply."

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