Report: FDA could make it easier for gay, bisexual men to donate blood

CHARLOTTE — The FDA could soon make it easier for gay and bisexual men to donate blood, according to a report by the New York Times.

The potential new plan is still under debate, but if approved, here’s how it would work.

Men who have sex with men would have to fill out a questionnaire. If they’ve not had any new sexual partners in three months, they could donate blood.

For decades, the FDA has set restrictions for gay and bisexual men who want to donate blood. That traces back to the 1980s and fears of HIV transmission. Then in 2015, a new rule allowed men who have sex with men to donate blood only if they’d had no sexual contact with other men for a year.

Then, the blood shortage in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic led the FDA to reduce that period to three months.

The new plan that could soon be announced would allow those men to donate blood if they’ve had no new sexual partners in the past three months.

Local LGBTQ rights advocates say it’s progress, but not enough.

“This is a step in the right direction but there’s actually more work that should be done,” said Matt Comer with Charlotte Pride. “But it’s still going to be a broad policy based on sexual orientation and gender identity.”

“Being gay or transgender is not a risk factor for acquiring HIV or being HIV-positive,” Comer added.

Comer said the FDA should instead pass a policy that focuses on risk and behavior, not groups of people.

There’s no word yet on when the new policy may be passed.

The Red Cross was part of the study and issued a statement about its conclusion, saying in part, “The Red Cross looks forward to learning more and remains committed to working toward an inclusive and equitable blood donation process that treats all potential donors with equality and respect, and ensures a safe, sufficient blood supply is readily available for patients in need.”

(WATCH BELOW: Plasma pays: Center reports surge in donors as people look to supplement their income)

Hunter Sáenz

Hunter Sáenz, wsoctv.com

Hunter is a reporter for Channel 9.