Gay Men Can Now Donate Blood in New LGBT Rights Win

The Biden administration is eliminating a long-standing rule prohibiting gay and bisexual men who are sexually active from donating blood, a ban introduced during the AIDS crisis in 1985 to prevent the spreading of infection.

FDA’s Blood Rules Go ‘Gender-Inclusive’

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced at the end of last week that it overruled the restriction and proposed new draft guidelines on who could donate blood.

The FDA policy shift on blood donating marks a “win for LGBTQIA+ rights” groups who have been protesting against the ban for decades, calling it “discriminatory,” The New York Post reported.

The FDA made it clear its new blood donation guidelines no longer “single out” people for their “gender and sexual identities.”

Instead, they deal with all people’s “sexual behaviors” and assess the risk of spreading HIV and AIDS on the basis of “sexual practices.”

The statement put out by the FDA declared its new draft rules use “gender-inclusive” questions to seek to decrease the threat of “transfusion-transmitted HIV.”

The new guidelines stipulate that people in monogamous relationships – regardless of whether they are heterosexual, bisexual, or homosexual – would be “eligible” to give blood through, which is described as “an act of public service.”

The rules change means many gay and bisexual men will be able to donate blood for the first time since the prohibition was adopted in 1985.

The FDA statement also includes comments by its commissioner, Robert Califf, who emphasized the proposed new guidelines would help assess risk individually for every blood donor and not depending on “gender or sexual orientation.”

He also stressed the need to guarantee an “adequate supply” of blood in the US.

Woman Who Have Anal Sex Get Targeted

In line with the changes on the eligibility of gay and bisexual men, the FDA proposal, for the first, time targets women with restrictions on donating blood – it seeks to identify those women who practice anal sex.

The new blood donation assessment in the US will ask potential donors if they have had new sexual partners or engaged in anal sex over the preceding three months. Those who haven’t would be able to donate blood.

However, those who have done either of the two would be asked to wait for three months before giving blood.

The original 1985 rule banning gay men from donating blood was altered in 2015 to allow them to do it if they had abstained from anal sex for at least one year. The UK and Canada also lifted gay men’s blood donation bans in recent years.

The report quotes Claudia Cohn, the chief medical officer of the “Association for the Advancement of Blood and Biotherapies,” as saying it was essential not to “exclude” any groups of blood donors that could be “perfectly safe.”

Tony Morrison from the “Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation” welcomed the FDA shift, saying the previous “discriminatory” rules made it seems as though HIV was a “gay disease,” whereas, in his words,” it “very much” isn’t.


This article appeared in Mainstpress and has been published here with permission.