Scroll To Top

FDA to Overhaul Blood Donation Rules Related to Gay Sex

Gay Couple
Image by Wendy Wei via Pexels

Men who haven't had a new anal sex partner in three months will no longer face restrictions.

The Food and Drug Administration will soon lift restrictions on blood donations on sexually-active gay and bisexual men, as long as they've only had one anal sex partner in the last three months.

News of a potential change on blood donations was reported in November, but an anonymous government official confirmed to The Washington Post that the FDA is moving forward with the change. The new rules should go into effect following a public comment period, likely late this year or early 2024. Aligning with current policies in Canada and the United Kingdom, the FDA is evolving to focus more on behavior than identity when determining who can donate blood.

The current FDA policy requires men who have sex with men to abstain from gay sex for three months in order to donate. The new rules will allow men with a regular male sex partner to also give blood, as long as they have not had additional anal sex partners in the past three months. The new rules are an important distinction from current policy, both in terms of encouraging men in monogamous same-sex relationships to donate blood and specifically allowing men who have had oral sex with other men in the past 90 days to donate blood.

“We need to identify those people who are at high risk of being in that window period and prevent them from donating,” Bruce Walker, director of the Ragon Institute of Massachusetts General Hospital, MIT and Harvard, told the Post. “Up until now, it’s been very stigmatizing in that we’ve only delved deeply into risk factors for men who have sex with men.”

The policy's history on queer men goes back to the beginning of the HIV epidemic in the 1980s. In 1985, the FDA put a lifetime donation ban on men who have sex with men. However, in 2015, that was changed to a requirement for 12 months of celibacy before donation, due to advances in HIV testing and treatment. In 2020, the policy was changed again to the current three months of celibacy due to blood shortages early in the COVID-19 pandemic.

The continued limits on gay and bi blood donation are seen as homophobic and stigmatizing by many. Under the current rules, a man who had sex with one man over the past 90 days is banned from donation, while a man with numerous female sex partners is allowed to donate.

The Biden administration indicated in January 2022 that they were open to amending the current policy banning men from donating blood if they've had sex with another man in the past three months.

Advocate Magazine - Gio BenitezAdvocate Channel Promotion

From our Sponsors

Most Popular

Latest Stories