Feds Quietly Change Requirement For Blood Donations

In accordance with the FDA’s new regulations, all blood donors will be subjected to the same questions regarding their most recent sexual history, and the current time-based deferrals for men who have sexual relations with men and women who have sexual relations with women would be scrapped. The organization believes this will increase the number of people willing to donate blood. 

According to a press statement, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has done away with its separate eligibility questionnaire for gay blood donors as of Thursday.

Due to their higher risk of contracting HIV, the FDA banned homosexual and bisexual men from donating blood from 1983 to 2015 and has since required qualifying questionnaires for LGBT potential donors. Policy shifts resulted from advancements in blood-testing technology and pressure from LGBT activists who saw donation limitations as a civil rights violation.

The FDA says that all donors, regardless of sexual orientation, must answer questions about whether or not they have recently had sexual activity with a new sexual partner or multiple partners, and those who answer “yes” must also answer “yes” to whether or not they have recently engaged in anal intercourse. If a potential blood donor responds negatively to both questions, they will be accepted regardless of their sexual orientation.

While maintaining appropriate safeguards to protect recipients of blood products, the FDA has worked hard to evaluate their policies and ensure they have the scientific evidence to be confident about assessing the risk for donor eligibility, according to Dr. Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research.

Marks saw the policy shift as a win for the LGBT community.

He said the agency and the LGBTQI+ community would have reached a significant milestone once his suggestions were implemented. Once this individualized risk-based strategy is in place, the FDA will continue to evaluate the safety of the blood supply and will work closely with the blood collection industry to ensure prompt implementation of the new guidelines.