FDA revises rules to allow gay, bisexual men to donate blood

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WASHINGTON, D. C. -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has revised some of its recommendations when it comes to blood donations.

One of the more significant changes concerns bisexual or gay men.

Under the previous rules, any male who ever participated in sex with another man could not donate blood.

However, in 2010 it was agreed more studies were needed to be done to determine if a policy change was needed.

Four years later, the FDA, CDC, the Health Health Resources and Services Administration, the National Institutes of Health and the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health all reviewed those results and made a recommendation that the deferral period be shortened to 12 months.

That means gay and bisexual men can donate blood if they do not have sex with men for a year.

Some people believe this change is unrealistic.

"If a heterosexual individual is sexually active, they can donate blood, but gay and bisexual men have to wait 12 months. So, it's kind of like public-health-sponsored segregation," said Memphis Gay and Lesbian Community Center HIV Program Coordinator Martavius Hampton.

WREG saw several tweets online Tuesday from people who question the safety of gay and bisexual men's blood donations.

VP of Donor Relations for Lifeblood Jennifer Balink told WREG all blood is tested the same way for safety.

"The bottom line for all of this is that there are more patients than there are donors here and in other places, and blood saves lives. So, the more people who are eligible to donate, the better it is for patients in our community," Balink said.

Balink said the change will not be overnight. Changes will go into effect based on decisions of facilities' medical directors. Also, forms will need adjustments.

In addition, those individuals who have hemophilia or any other blood clotting related disorders, as well as anyone who has had sexual contact with a person who has this disorder,  will now also be allowed to give.

With the increase safety of clotting factor concentrates, the FDA said it no longer considers it an HIV risk.

The following are the current recommendations provided by the FDA:

  • Defer indefinitely an individual who has ever had a positive test for HIV.
  • Defer indefinitely an individual who has ever exchanged sex for money or drugs.
  • Defer indefinitely an individual who has ever engaged in injection drug use that was not prescribed.
  • Defer for 12 months from the most recent contact any individual who has a history of sex with a person who: has ever had a positive test for HIV, ever exchanged sex for money or drugs, or ever engaged in non-prescription injection drug use.
  • Defer for 12 months from the most recent transfusion any individual who has a history of receiving a transfusion of Whole Blood or blood components donated by another person (allogeneic transfusion).
  • Defer for 12 months from the most recent exposure any individual who has a history of through-the-skin contact with the blood of another individual, such as a needle stick or blood contact with an open wound or mucous membrane.
  • Defer for 12 months from the most recent tattoo, ear or body piercing. However, individuals who have undergone tattooing within 12 months of donation are eligible to donate if the tattoo was applied by a state regulated entity with sterile needles and non-reused ink. Individuals who have undergone ear or body piercing within 12 months of donation are eligible to donate if the piercing was done using single-use equipment.
  • Defer for 12 months after completion of treatment any individual with a history of syphilis or gonorrhea or with a history of diagnosis or treatment for syphilis or gonorrhea in the past 12 months.
  • Defer for 12 months from the most recent contact a man who has had sex with another man during the past 12 months.
  • Defer for 12 months from the most recent contact a female who has had sex during the past 12 months with a man who has had sex with another man in the past 12 months.

 

For more information on the FDA changes, click here.

 

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