The American Red Cross has completely abandoned its blood donor ban on men who have had sex with men (MSM) and, starting today, bases eligibility on individual risk factors, e.g. updated FDA guidance. The nonprofit organization now asks would-be blood donors “the same eligibility questions regardless of gender or sexual orientation.”
Although the Red Cross removed specific limits for men who have sex with men, will require a three-month waiting period for anyone to “donate blood from last anal sexual contact.” The Red Cross will also continue to refuse donations from people who are HIV positive, even if their viral load is undetectable. look at full nonprofit FAQ page due to other disqualifying factors.
The new FDA policy was announced earlier this year, and while it’s certainly a step forward for a long timemany gay men will continue to carry a burden. Many could be excluded“even those who use condoms or are regularly tested for sexually transmitted infections,” Benjamin Mazer wrote in the atlantic back in February.
The Red Cross said in a sentence who, “for many years,” advocated for a more inclusive blood donation policy to make a “safe and sufficient blood supply… available to patients in need.”
Differentiating potential donors based on sexuality seems increasingly unreasonable given better evidence of HIV infection, as well as the fact that it is not a virus that is transmitted exclusively from man to man
The discriminatory practice of rejecting donors based on their sexual preference was originally adopted to hinder the spread of HIV/AIDS, despite the fact that sexuality is only one risk factor for HIV. Differentiating potential donors based on sexuality seems increasingly unreasonablewrote former American Medical Association President Gerald E. Harmon last year, given the best evidence of HIV infection, as well as the fact that it is not a virus that is transmitted exclusively from man to man.
In the mid 1980s, the FDA has released new guidance that indefinitely prohibits any man who has had sex with another man since 1977 from donating blood. In late 2014, the FDA announced that it would change its guidance from lifetime bans for MSM donors to requiring men who have sex with men to abstain from sex for one year before donating, and in 2020, the FDA reduced the calendar to 90 days. Earlier this year, it removed that specific restriction (or expanded it to include everyone, depending on how you look at it) and allowed the United States to move closer to join a growing list of countries that allow gay and bisexual men to donate blood without restrictions.
That change in policy is what led to the Red Cross’s own change. However, you’ll still want to check with your local blood donation center before moving on to donate, as not all of them are associated with the Red Cross. Given we are currently dealing with a blood shortageIt never hurts to stop and give a little.