"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

New directive allows more blood donations from gay and bisexual men

August 8, 2023 – Many gay and bisexual men at the moment are allowed to donate blood after the American Red Cross enacted a change in FDA guidelines.

“This change eliminated the previous FDA approval criteria based on sexual orientation,” Red Cross says the web site. “The Red Cross celebrates this significant progress while recognizing that more needs to be done to make blood donation even more inclusive.”

In May, the FDA relaxed restrictions on blood donations by gay men. The ban had been in place since 1985, at the peak of the AIDS crisis, as a result of fears of contaminated blood. It included a lifetime ban for all men who had ever had sexual activity with one other man since 1977.

The FDA modified the regulations in 2015, shortening the period between a person's last sexual contact with one other man and his donation to 12 months.

At the start of the COVID-19 crisis, the deadline was shortened to a few months.

The policy “now allows donations from men in monogamous relationships with other men and from men who have not recently had anal intercourse.” NBC News reported.

Gay rights groups had long pushed for the restrictions to be relaxed, arguing that the previous blanket ban was discriminatory and “not based on sound science given advances in testing technology,” NBC said.

All blood donations are tested for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, in addition to hepatitis B and C.

The screening process now blocks donations from anyone, no matter gender or sexual orientation, who reports having had sexual activity with a brand new person throughout the past three months or having had anal sex throughout the past three months.

David Stacy of the Human Rights Campaign, the country's largest LGBTQ advocacy group, told NBC the change was “a long-awaited step forward” that “marks the end of a decades-old ban rooted in discrimination and prejudice.”