FDA Eases Blood Donation Rules for Gay, Bisexual Men

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May 12, 2023 – The FDA has changed its blood donation screening rules to allow more gay and bisexual men to donate blood.

All applicants will be asked the same questions about their sexual histories, regardless of gender or sexual orientation. Applicants who say they’ve had a new sexual partner or more than one sexual partner in the past 3 months would be asked if they had anal sex during that time period. If they say yes, they would still be turned away.

People taking some medications designed to thwart HIV infection would also be deferred. The FDA said those medications, while effective, may delay detection of HIV by blood screening tests and sometimes give false negative results.

The FDA said the new policy is based on the latest scientific evidence and is similar to policies in the United Kingdom and Canada. It should expand the number of people eligible to donate blood while keeping blood supplies safe, the FDA said in a statement. 

Previous FDA policies for blood donations were enacted in the 1980s during the AIDS pandemic and have long been considered discriminatory. The FDA proposed the policy change last January.

The American Red Cross issued a statement praising the decision but said “more work to be done to make blood donation even more inclusive.” 

GLAAD, an LGBTQ advocacy group, said the FDA decision was “an important step in the right direction.” But the group said not allowing blood donations from people taking PrEP, an FDA-approved drug to prevent getting HIV, “adds unnecessary stigma” and may cost lives.