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Yes, blood donation rules have changed for men who have sex with men

The Red Cross and other blood donation centers are implementing FDA guidance that allows more men who have sex with men to give blood.

One blood donation can help two or more patients in need, according to America’s Blood Centers. But blood banks have historically implemented restrictions preventing some gay and bisexual men from donating blood. 

In May, some social media posts claimed the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) updated its blood donation policy for gay and bisexual men. People online are now asking whether the Red Cross and other blood donation centers have changed their rules for donating blood.


Have blood donation rules changed for men who have sex with men?




This is true.

Yes, blood donation rules have changed for men who have sex with men. The latest FDA guidelines allow men who have sex with men to donate blood without having to abstain from sex for three months, if they are in monogamous relationships. 

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On May 11, the FDA finalized new guidelines on evaluating blood donor eligibility.

The new policy, which was first proposed in January 2023, allows men who have sex with men (MSM) in monogamous relationships to give blood without having to abstain from sex. 

Previously, the FDA required MSM to abstain from sex for three months prior to giving blood.

The federal health agency says all prospective blood donors will now have to answer a “series of individual, risk-based questions” to determine whether they are eligible to give blood, regardless of their sexual orientation, sex or gender. 

Under the new guidance, anyone who reports having anal sex with a new partner or more than one sexual partner in the past three months would not be allowed to donate blood at that time. 

The FDA says this reduces the likelihood that people with new or recent human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infections will donate blood. HIV is a virus that attacks the body’s immune system and, if not treated, it can lead to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).

Anyone taking medication to treat or prevent HIV infection, including pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), will need to wait until three months after their most recent dose to give blood under the latest FDA guidance.

“The implementation of these recommendations will represent a significant milestone for the agency and the LGBTQI+ community,” said Peter Marks, M.D., PhD., director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research. “The FDA is committed to working closely with the blood collection industry to help ensure timely implementation of the new recommendations and we will continue to monitor the safety of the blood supply once this individual risk-based approach is in place.”

At least two major blood donation organizations in the United States have announced that they are implementing the new FDA guidance. 

The Red Cross said on Aug. 7 that it is “now welcoming more donors…through updated FDA blood donation eligibility guidelines that eliminate longstanding broad, time-based deferrals based on sexual orientation.” The nonprofit’s webpage on LGBTQ+ donors has also been updated to reflect the changes. 

Vitalant, another nonprofit that has more than 100 blood donation locations throughout the country, said on July 20 that it “plans to make donor eligibility updates later this summer.”

“We are completing the transition as quickly as possible while ensuring compliance with the FDA's final guidance,” Vitalant said. 

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