FDA proposal to allow gay men in monogamous relationships to donate blood

A nurse fills test tubes with blood for analysis during an American Red Cross blood transfusion in Fullerton, California on Thursday, January 20, 2022.

Paul Bersebach | MediaNews Group | Getty Images

The Food and Drug Administration on Friday proposed new guidelines that would no longer require gay and bisexual men in monogamous relationships to abstain from sex before donating blood.

The FDA imposed a lifetime ban on blood donations from men who have sex with men during the AIDS crisis in the 1980s. The agency loosened the ban in 2015, allowing gay and bisexual men to donate blood as long as they hadn’t had sex in the previous year.

In response to the shortage of blood donors during the Covid pandemic, the FDA further relaxed restrictions in April 2020 to allow gay and bisexual men who have not had sex in the past three months to donate blood.

Under rules proposed Friday, gay and bisexual men in monogamous relationships will be allowed to donate blood. But individuals, regardless of gender or sexual orientation, who have recently had anal sex with a new or multiple partners will have to wait three months before donating blood.

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“Maintaining a safe and adequate supply of U.S. blood and blood products is of paramount importance to the FDA, and this proposal for individualized risk assessment, regardless of gender or sexual orientation, will allow us to continue to use the best science to do so. ” he said FDA Commissioner Dr. Robert Kaliff on Friday. This was previously reported by the Washington Post.

The American Medical Association has criticized the FDA’s restrictions on gay donation as discriminatory.

“The issue is the need to evaluate all potential blood donors on an equal basis, taking into account their individual risk factors and without regard to their sexual orientation or gender identity,” the doctor said. Gerald Harmon with the AMAs in January 2022.

The Human Rights Campaign, the largest national LGBTQ rights organization, said the FDA proposal is a step in the right direction, but more needs to be done to lift the restrictions.

“We call on the Biden administration to prioritize removing remaining barriers and ask the FDA to act quickly while ensuring the safety of the blood supply and blood donation policy consistent with the science,” HRC President Kelly Robinson said in a statement.

People taking oral HIV prevention medications are not allowed to donate blood for three months after their last dose. Those who inject to prevent HIV will not be allowed to donate blood for two years after their last injection.

These medications, called pre-exposure prophylaxis or PrEP, can lead to false-negative HIV test results, according to the FDA.

Under the FDA’s proposed policy, anyone who tests positive for HIV or who has taken medication to treat HIV infection will be prohibited from donating blood. People who have recently engaged in sex work or used illicit intravenous drugs will have to wait three months to become a donor.

Blood banks will still be required to test all donations for HIV, as well as hepatitis C and B, according to the FDA.

Dr. Peter Marks, a senior FDA official, said the agency is evaluating scientific evidence to increase the number of people who are eligible to donate blood while maintaining security measures to ensure supplies are safe for recipients.

“We will continue to use the best available science to maintain an adequate supply of blood and minimize the risk of infectious disease transmission, and are committed to completing this draft guidance as quickly as possible,” Marks said on Friday.