FDA Proposes New Guidelines for Blood Donations

    FDA Proposes New Guidelines for Blood Donations
    Last updated Jan 29, 2023
    Image credit: Getty Images [via BBC News]


    • On Friday, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced draft guidelines to implement individual risk assessments that would ease restrictions on blood donations by "men who have sex with men (MSM) and women who have sex with MSM."[1]
    • Under the proposed federal guidelines, the current three-month abstinence period for gay and bisexual men in monogamous relationships would be eliminated.[2]
    • Instead of time-based deferrals, blood donors will be assessed based on individual risk-based questions to reduce the risk of transfusion-transmitted HIV.[3]
    • If potential donors don't report having new or multiple sexual partners in the past three months, they would be eligible to donate blood — provided all other eligibility criteria are met.[4]
    • Before being finalized, the proposal will be open for public comment for a 60-day period.[5]
    • During the early 1980′s AIDS epidemic, gay and bisexual men were banned from donating blood. In 2015, the lifetime ban was replaced with a one-year abstinence period — it was further shortened to three months in 2020 after donations plummeted during COVID.[6]


    Narrative A

    This common-sense proposal is a a boon for gay rights as it will end discriminatory and unnecessary blood donation restrictions. With today's technology able to test blood for infectious diseases, it's high time the US joins other nations — such as Canada and the UK — in making the process fairer for everyone, thereby encouraging more blood donations.

    Narrative B

    It's short-sighted to mistake precaution for discrimination. The reality is that HIV infection disproportionately affects MSM, and without the tools of today, the FDA rightly chose to execute due diligence. As medicine and technology progress, it's natural — and encouraged — that regulations such as these follow suit; however, the FDA must be mindful to keep prioritizing the safety of the blood system.

    Articles on this story