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FDA: Blood Donors Will No Longer Be Excluded by Sexual Orientation

After a decades-long ban and required abstinence, men who have sex with men will be able to donate blood just like everyone else.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced Thursday that blood donors would no longer be assessed by their sexual orientation, but rather by individual questions to determine risk factors and possible exposure to HIV/AIDS.

“These questions will be the same for every donor, regardless of sexual orientation, sex or gender,” the FDA said. “Blood establishments may now implement these recommendations by revising their donor history questionnaires and procedures.”

The move began in January, when the FDA first proposed doing away with targeting men who have sex with men and instead asking all donors about new or multiple sex partners in the last three months and their history of anal sex in the last three months. Prospective donors who are on PrEP would also be exempt from donating blood, as “the available data demonstrate that their use may delay detection of HIV.”

“The implementation of these recommendations will represent a significant milestone for the agency and the LGBTQI+ community,” said Dr. Peter Marks, the director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research.

As a result of the AIDS crisis, the FDA put a lifetime ban on gay and bisexual men from donating blood in 1983. In 2015, the agency relaxed the rules and instead required that men who have sex with men abstain from sex for one year before donating. This time period was shortened to three months in 2020. In the days following the Pulse shooting in Orlando that killed 49 people, rumors circulated that the rules had been lifted — however, the FDA confirmed that no, gay and bisexual men were still unable to donate blood to those who needed it.

On Thursday, the Congressional Equality Caucus applauded the FDA’s update for blood donors.

“For far too long, the federal government used outdated and unscientific fears to determine who can and cannot give blood,” Equality Caucus Chair Rep. Mark Pocan said in a statement. “This recommendation aligns with the LGBTQI+ community’s long-term request for individualized risk-based assessments.”

Story courtesy of South Florida Gay News via the National LGBTQ Media Association. The National LGBTQ Media Association represents 13 legacy publications in major markets across the country with a collective readership of more than 400K in print and more than 1 million + online. Learn more here: