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It really amounts to being an effective ban, based on a persons identity rather than an actual factor on the science, she added.
In 2015, the guidance changed from a lifetime ban to a 12-month deferral, and the FDA determines the guidance used by all U.S. blood collection organizations.
Restrictions on blood donations from gay and bisexual men, who are considered to be at high risk for HIV or AIDS transmission, date back to the 1980s.
Gay and bisexual men undergo individual risk assessments instead of time-based bans in countries around the world, recently including Greece and France, according to international reports. Italy, Israel, and several other countries have similar requirements.
In 2020, ABC News broke the story that several major blood donation organizations including the American Red Cross, Vitalant, and OneBlood announced that they are working together to study and provide data to the FDA to determine if eligibility based on an individualâs risk can replace the current time-based deferral system while maintaining the safety of the blood supply.
Vitalant told ABC News in a new statement that researchers are halfway toward its goal of enrolling 2,000 participants across eight cities: Washington D.C., San Francisco, Orlando, New Orleans/Baton Rouge, Miami, Memphis, Los Angeles, and Atlanta. They encourage gay and bisexual men who are 18 to 39 years old to participate in the research.
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The restriction on blood donations came out of the HIV/AIDS crisis of the 1980s, when limited testing technology and capacity existed to screen blood for HIV. In 1983, the FDA implemented a lifetime ban on blood donations from all men who had sex with men after 1977.
The FDA removed the lifetime ban and enacted a 12-month deferral period in 2015, meaning gay or bisexual men had to abstain from having sex with other men for at least 12 months before donating blood. That deferral period was reduced to three months in April 2020 amid blood supply shortages in the beginning months of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Despite cutting of deferral periods in recent years, the current federal policy remains a blanket policy covering LGBTQ+ people, and does not take into account individual risk.
“The legacy of bans on blood donation continues to be painful, especially for LGBTQI+ communities,” the White House official told ABC News in a statement. “The President is committed to ensuring that this policy is based on science, not fiction or stigma. While there are no new decisions to announce at the moment, the FDA is currently supporting the ‘ADVANCE’ study, a scientific study to develop relevant scientific evidence and inform any potential policy changes.”
In what seems like a clash over risk vs. stigma, LGBTQ+ advocacy groups and many in the medical community are aligned on the idea that the current federal policy on LGBTQ+ blood donor eligibility is largely discriminatory.
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Theres no denying that men who have sex with men, including gay men, bisexual men and others, are at greater risk for HIV 57 percent of people living with HIV got it from male-to-male sexual contact. But while other higher-risk groups like intravenous drug users and sex workers face the same restrictions on organ, blood, and tissue donation, not all do, showing the restriction is arbitrary and discriminatory. African Americans, for instance, accounted for 42 percent of new HIV infections in 2018, making them another group at elevated risk for the disease, but there is rightly no blanket ban on Black people donating blood, tissue or organs.
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Can Gay And Bisexual Men Donate Blood To The Red Cross
Gay and bisexual men are technically allowed to donate blood to the Red Cross. A caveat to this, however, is sexual abstinence.
In 1983, the Federal Food and Drug Administration put guidelines in place that banned any man who had sex with another man since 1977, even once, from donating blood.
The federal ban put a focus on gay and bisexual men becuase it was created during the height of the AIDS crisis when there was a fear of an “HIV-contaminated blood supply.” Numerous activists and medical experts have since argued that risk behaviors, not sexual orientation, should be the main focus of deferring blood donors.
The first HIV blood test was developed in 1985, not long after the FDA’s ban was put into place. The tests have greatly grown in accuracy and complexity since then. It was for this reason that the FDA decided to change its guidelines.
The change came in 2018 after years of pressure from the Red Cross, the American Medical Association, and other medical agencies asking for the policy to be more based in current medical data. The FDA, in response, lifted the ban on one condition: a man can’t donate blood if he’s had sex with another man in the past year.
This guideline was amended again in 2021 due to the urgent need for blood across the country during the COVID-19 pandemic. The celibacy period was lowered from one year to three months.
I Am A Gay Or Bisexual Man Who Is Not Currently Eligible To Donate Blood How Can I Contribute To The Blood Supply
Gay or bisexual men who are not currently eligible to donate blood may be eligible to participate in the FDA-funded ADVANCE Study, which is studying innovative alternative eligibility processes. The study seeks to determine whether deferral criteria could be based on a donors individual risk for HIV infection rather than the date of their most recent sexual contact with another man. This landmark pilot study is a collaboration between three large blood centers Vitalant, OneBlood and the American Red Cross and LGBTQ+ centers in the cities where the study is be being conducted. The study will enroll participants through July 2022.
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Can Men Give Blood
Women must wait 16 weeks to protect their iron levels, whereas men can donate blood every 12 weeks. Men who donate on a regular basis not only contribute to the nearly 5,000 donations that are needed every day, but they also play a major role in improving the lives of those less fortunate.
Can You Donate Blood With Tattoos?
Can I donate blood if I have a tattoo? Tattoos can be used to donate blood. After three months, the skin on your tattoo is completely healed and was thoroughly applied by a state-licensed facility, which uses sterile needles and fresh ink to meet all donor eligibility requirements. You can donate blood as a donor if you have a tattoo in the last three months. Why are blood donations denied? The disease of the lungs. Blood donation rejection can be caused by a number of factors, including HIV infection, AIDS, or STD transmission. If you are highly sexualized , you may not be able to donate blood.
Despite Critical Blood Shortage Discrimination Still Keeps Many Gay Men From Donating
Heres why advocates say the restrictions are outdated, and how you can help now
One month into his freshman year at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., Connor Martin and his fledgling friend group made their way to a campus blood drive. But as his friends went on to donate after answering screening questions, Martin was turned away. When my friends asked why I was leaving so abruptly I had to explain that Im gay and sexually active, and I cant donate because theyre worried about HIV, says Martin, who had yet to come out to all of his new friends. He remembers being so humiliated his voice shook, and needing to go back to his dorm room to cry.
That was in 2014. Since then, the Food and Drug Administration has twice revised its policy on blood donation by gay men. First, it lifted the lifelong ban preventing them from donating, saying instead that they had to abstain from sexual contact with another man for 12 months. Then, in April 2020, they shortened that to three months.
But now, as the nation finds itself in a worst-in-a-decade shortage, calls to drop the time-based ban altogether for being at once discriminatory and unnecessary have taken on new urgency.
For some types of blood products, like Type O blood and platelets, there is less than a one-day supply on reserve when ideally there should be five, according to the American Red Cross, which supplies 40 percent of the nations blood.
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American Red Cross Statement On Fda Msm Deferral Policy
The American Red Cross seeks to build an inclusive environment that embraces diversity for all those who engage with our lifesaving mission. As such the Red Cross believes blood donation eligibility should not be determined by methods that are based upon sexual orientation and is committed to working with partners toward achieving this goal.
In April 2020, the U.S. Food and Drug Administrationwho determines blood donor eligibility reduced the deferral time for men who have sex with men from 12 to three months. The Red Cross is encouraged by this action, which we view as an interim step to achieving our greater goal. But the Red Cross also recognizes that further progress is needed, and we continue to strongly support the expanded use of new research and technologies to work toward elimination of donor eligibility questions that would no longer be necessary.
The ADVANCE Study concluded enrollment on Sept. 30, 2022. Researchers from the participating blood centers will complete their work by the end of 2022, which includes completing follow-up visits with participants into the fall, and then forward the information to the FDA to determine the next steps. We would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to the LGBTQ+ community partners, study participants, and all those who supported the groundbreaking ADVANCE Study as we all seek to make blood donation a more inclusive process while maintaining the safety of the blood supply.
Questions We Ask Before You Donate
To assess whether its safe to give blood, we ask everyone the same questions about these risk factors before they donate.
This health questionnaire is the first step in an important line of checks and tests we take to limit the chances of infections reaching vulnerable patients.
We trust people to answer these questions about their medical history and lifestyle as fully as possible.
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The Restriction Reinforces Stigma Forces People To Lie
Having measures that define who can and who cannot donate blood based on their identity is disincentivizing, to say the very least. Many people who participate in blood drives are involved in high-risk behavior, from intravenous drug use to getting tattoos and piercings to being a sex worker. Still, these donors can still support blood-collecting organizations thanks to the blood screening processes.
Even if a gay man doesnt engage in so-called high-risk behaviors he doesnt use drugs, visit the tattoo or piercing parlor, engage in unsafe sex or sex work hes still disqualified based on his sexual orientation. In some ways, then, the restrictions worsen the stigma many in the U.S. still hold toward gay and bisexual men.
Blood donation is essential. Saving someones life often boils down to an individuals willingness to donate blood in the first place. Since youre required to self-report if youve recently engaged in the above high-risk behaviors or if youre a MSM before donating blood, theres a possibility that some would-be donors may feel compelled to lie. After all, no one should have to disclose personal information, including their sexuality, just to donate blood or receive healthcare services.
Fda’s Revised Blood Donation Guidance For Gay Men Still Courts Controversy
The FDA has announced a relaxing of its restrictions on gay men being allowed to donate blood, in light of the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic. Instead of 1 year, if a male has had sex with another male, he need only wait 3 months to donate blood.
The FDA has announced a relaxing of its restrictions on gay men being allowed to donate blood, in light of the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic. Red Cross figures in March showed a drop-off of 86,000 fewer blood donations across the United States, due to almost 2700 blood drives that had to be cancelled.
Now, instead of 1 year, if a male has had sex with another male, he need only wait 3 months to donate blood. However, controversy still surrounds the FDAs newest guidance, as some say it is continues to be based not on fact but on prejudice. The original ban on donations was born during an era when HIV was not well understood and few men with AIDS survived.
Therein lies the rub: these guidelines have remained in place for years, long after processes exist to test blood products to determine if they are safe, no matter who donates. According to the CDC, all donated blood products are tested for HIV and other pathogens, such as hepatitis C virus. The revised policy matches that in the United Kingdom, which in 2017 implemented a 3-month deferral policy for gay or bisexual men who want to donate blood.
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Our Commitment To Diversity Equity And Inclusion
Every day, generous donors across the country make a commitment to help save lives. Our commitment back to you our donors, recipients, employees, stakeholders, partners, volunteers and all those who wish to join Canadas Lifeline is to build and support a national transfusion and transplantation system that is diverse, equitable and inclusive for all.
At Canadian Blood Services, we are continuing to take necessary steps to further evolve our practices and policies and address systemic discrimination and racism within our organization. We recognize that our future requires a significantly more diverse donor and registrant base in order to meet complex, evolving and underserved patient needs, as well as a workforce that more fully reflects Canadas population.
We know that any work we do going forward must be intersectional in nature, examining how peoples lived experiences overlap in terms of gender identity/expression, sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity, age, visible or invisible disability, socio-economic status or any other aspect which makes them unique.
We thank all of you who have shared your experiences related to our donor screening practices. We hope that you will continue to hold us accountable for our commitments to change.
Below are examples of some of the strategic initiatives weve undertaken and implemented to date, to advance diversity, equity and inclusion at Canadian Blood Services.
Can You Give Blood If You Are A Gay Male
Picture source: bbci
Yes, you can give blood if you are a gay male. There are no restrictions on giving blood based on sexual orientation. All blood donors are screened for risk factors for transfusion-transmissible infections, such as HIV, hepatitis B and C, syphilis, and West Nile virus.
Blood transfusions necessitate the presence of more donors and a broader range of donor types. This is due to an increase in the number of blood donors. When performing an emergency blood transfusion, it is critical to match the blood types of the donor and recipient in order to ensure compatibility. Blood bags come with only one number that identifies them: the recipients race, ethnicity, religion, and gender. Hereditary hemochromatosis, or HA, affects the bodys iron metabolism and is passed down through the genes. Because a heredity hemochromatosis donor is more likely to donate blood every eight weeks, this means they are more likely to donate blood on a regular basis. If it is appropriate, they can also be used for transfusion. Blood transfusions are in high demand as a result of an aging population.
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Does Donating Blood Affect Male Fertility
There is no evidence to support the claim that blood donation causes impotence or infertility. There is no age limit on how long male or female donors can be pregnant or have children during their donation process.
Donating Blood Is An Important Way To Help Others, But Pregnant Women Should Take A Break.
Giving blood is an incredibly important service to society, but it can also be extremely beneficial to your own health. If you are a blood donor who is trying to become pregnant, it is strongly advised that you stop donating so that you can build and maintain healthy iron levels in order to meet the increased iron requirements of the unborn child. If you have already given blood, you will be able to donate if you havent given blood in the previous twelve months and arent pregnant. If you are attempting to conceive, our recommendation is to avoid donating blood because there is a small chance of damage to the babys developing blood vessels if you do so.
Fda May Update Its Policy On Blood Donations From Gay And Bi Men
Having eased its ban on blood donations from gay and bi men in 2020, the FDA may soon use a questionnaire to assess individual risk.
More gay and bisexual men may be able to donate blood and plasma in 2023, reports CNN, noting that the Food and Drug Administration has signaled that it may ease its policy on blood donations from men who have sex with men. This population had once been banned from donating blood because of HIV transmission risksa very real concern in the early days of the HIV epidemic but one no longer justified by science.
Currently, men who have sex with men can donate blood and plasma if they havent had sex in the previous three months. That policy went into effect in 2020. The previous FDA recommendations required gay and bi men to abstain from sex for 12 months before donating blood, but when COVID-19 struck in 2020 and resulted in a blood shortage, the FDA eased the policy.
In the near future, instead of enforcing another blanket blood ban like the three-month abstinence requirement on all gay and bi men, the FDA may implement a questionnaire that would assess individual risk.
We anticipate issuing updated draft guidance in the coming months, the FDA said in a statement obtained by CNN. The FDA remains committed to gathering the scientific data related to alternative donor deferral policies that maintain a high level of blood safety.
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