FDA drafts plan to update allowance for gay and bisexual men to give blood

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – Today, the Food and Drug Administration announced plans to ease rules for blood donations from gay and bisexual males.

The proposed new guidelines come as the U.S. faces a critical shortage of blood donations across the country.

The FDA is proposing to drop the three-month abstinence requirement for donations from men who have sex with men.

Donors would instead be screened using a questionnaire that evaluates individual risks for HIV.

A release by Blood Assurance states the updated guidance would use “blood donor screening criteria based on individual risk behaviors, not sexual or gender identity.”

“I think this is a great was to assess people’s individual risk factors where as before we were looking at risk factors of a group,” Dr. Liz Culler of Blood Assurance said.

If the new guidelines are accepted, gay and bisexual men in monogamous relationships could soon be able to donate blood for the first time in decades.

The most recent deferral in 2020 was revised to the current three-month deferral since last sex between men. In 2015, it was one year. The 1983 deferral was a life-long deferral on blood donations, according to Blood Assurance.

The U.S. would also follow several countries, including the U.K. and Canada, who implemented the FDA’s proposed guidelines years ago.

“In other countries, they have had success in bringing in donors,” Dr. Culler said. “In Portugal, they had a 7% increase in donations, not just males who have sex with males but people who support that community.”

The proposed blood donor changes will be open for public comment, which the FDA will review and consider.

Officials say it could take several months to issue the official guidance.

For more information, visit the FDA’s website.