The Red Cross has officially updated its rules from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration covering blood donations, allowing more gay and same-sex attracted men to donate blood.
“On August 7, 2023, the American Red Cross implemented the FDA’s updated final guidance regarding an individual donor assessment for all blood donors regardless of gender or sexual orientation. This change eliminated previous FDA eligibility criteria based on sexual orientation. The Red Cross celebrates this significant progress and also recognizes there is more work to be done to make blood donation even more inclusive. You can view the Red Cross statement on the final FDA guidance.” See the new guidelines here.
Rather than blanket banning men who have sex with men from donating blood (which was the rule for nearly four decades), the Red Cross will now screen all prospective donors using the same eligibility questions.
Anyone (not just men who have sex with men) who has had a new partner or multiple sexual partners in the past three months and who has also had anal sex during that time frame will be asked to wait three months “from the last anal contact” to donate blood, according to the Red Cross website.
People who are taking PrEP or who have taken PEP must undergo a deferral period before they can donate blood. Those who have taken oral PrEP must wait three months from the last dose, with intravenous PrEP users needing to wait two years from the last dose.
The Red Cross says this is because PrEP and PEP can interfere with viral replication and alter the detectability of HIV (even though PrEP is 99% effective at preventing transmission through sex).
In 1985, the FDA implemented a lifetime ban on any man who has had sex with another man since 1977. Outrageously, this ban was in place until 2015, when the deferral period was lessened to sex within the last year.
In April 2020, when the American Red Cross was facing blood supply shortages, the FDA shortened the period to three months.