FDA Finalizes New Blood Donation Guidelines

    FDA Finalizes New Blood Donation Guidelines
    Last updated May 12, 2023
    Image credit: AP [via NPR]


    • On Thursday, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommended new guidelines for blood donations that would ease restrictions on men who have intercourse with other men (MSM) in a move that's expected to alleviate blood supply shortages.[1]
    • The new guidelines replace time-based deferrals — that were only applied to MSM and women who have intercourse with MSM — with a new risk-based assessment for all donors.[2]
    • Under the new recommendations — which align with policies used in the UK and Canada — donors will be screened using a questionnaire that evaluates their risk of having HIV based on their sexual history, recent partners, and other behaviors that may expose them to the virus.[3]
    • Any donor who doesn't report new or multiple sexual partners in the past three months will be eligible to donate, provided all other requirements are met.[4]
    • The FDA first announced its plans to move to the new recommendation in January in a bid to address criticisms that called its previous guidelines discriminatory and outdated.[5]
    • The FDA said that it will continue to monitor the safety of the nation's blood supply after the new guidelines — which blood banks aren't required to follow — are implemented.[4]


    Narrative A

    It's about time the FDA catches up with science and ends its discriminatory policy. For decades the LGBTQ+ community has been excluded from donating blood with blanket measures while the blood supply continued to drop lower and lower. After years of pseudo changes, the agency is finally hearing and listening to gay rights advocacy groups and moving toward inclusive practices that serve the greater good.

    Narrative B

    While critics have been upset about the previous rules that impaired members of the LGTBQ+ community from donating blood, the practice was rooted in public safety. Epidemiologically, there’s a higher risk of getting HIV in men who have sex with other men, and the policies were introduced in the 1980s when blood banks had limited abilities to test blood products. While the guidelines may have been outdated, they were far from discriminatory.

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