The US Food and Drug Administration just released new draft recommendations for blood donation guidelines, which — finally — eases up on some administrative homophobia from the early days of the AIDS epidemic that restricts queer men from giving blood. Under these new rules:
• The time-based deferrals for men who have sex with men (MSM) and women who have sex with MSM would be eliminated.
• The current donor history questionnaire would be revised to ask all prospective donors about new or multiple sexual partners in the past three months.
• Prospective donors who report having a new sexual partner, or more than one sexual partner in the past three months, would then be asked about a history of anal sex in the past three months.
• All prospective donors who report having a new sexual partner or more than one sexual partner and had anal sex in the past three months would be deferred from donation.
• Under this proposal, a prospective donor who does not report having new or multiple sexual partners, and anal sex in the past three months, may be eligible to donate, provided all other eligibility criteria are met.
These rules had been previously updated in 2020 to allow men who have sex with men to donate if they haven't had sex with another men in the last three months. If these rules are approved after the public comment period, then at least queer men won't have to abstain for a full season before giving blood — at least, not if they're strictly monogamous. As NPR noted:
GLAAD and other groups say the changes still don't go far enough. They argue that some of the remaining restrictions are still unnecessary and stigmatizing, such as the prohibition against donations by people taking medication PrEP to prevent HIV.
"When we limit and defer people who are being proactive in their sexual health that stigmatizes them. The misconception is that people on PrEP are promiscuous or have a higher risk of HIV infection — that's categorically false," says Morrison.
So his group will continue to lobby the FDA to further ease restrictions.
FDA Proposes Individual Risk Assessment for Blood Donations, While Continuing to Safeguard U.S. Blood Supply [US Food and Drug Administration]