The American Red Cross on Monday began accepting blood donations from gay men who are in active sexual relationships after the Food and Drug Administration finalized recommendations in May that allow more gay men to donate blood.
Last year, the Red Cross said it would welcome changes to the FDA's blood donation policy. The FDA previously stipulated that any man who had sex with another man within the past three months would be excluded from donating. The new recommendations allow gay men in monogamous relationships the ability to donate blood.
Many in the LGBTQ+ community claimed the FDA’s previous policies were discriminatory and not based on science.
The FDA said that its policies were in place to reduce the spread of HIV. Nearly 60% of HIV infections are made through male-to-male sexual contact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
According to the new FDA rules, all potential blood donors will be asked questions about their recent sexual history. Those with a new sexual partner in the past three months, who have had multiple sexual partners in the past three months, or who have had anal sex in the past three months will be excluded from donating. Additionally, those who take medications to treat or prevent HIV are excluded from donating.
The new rules apply both to homosexual and heterosexual people.
"The Red Cross is committed to achieving an inclusive 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," the organization said in a statement. "This historic change in approach to donor eligibility is significant progress, resulting in a blood donation process that is more inclusive than ever before. The Red Cross celebrates the FDA’s elimination of blood donation policies based on sexual orientation."
The FDA said the new recommendations came after reviewing data, including from other countries that have similar policies.
"This scientific information has given the agency a solid foundation to support this new policy," the FDA said. "The FDA strongly believes the implementation of an individual risk-based approach will not adversely affect the safety or availability of the U.S. blood supply."
The American Red Cross said it will continue to monitor data.
"Going forward, the Red Cross remains committed to achieving further progress and will continue to provide data to the FDA to make blood donation even more inclusive," the Red Cross said. "We recognize the hurt the previous FDA policy that restricted gay and bisexual men from blood donation has caused and that these are just the first steps in repairing relationships with the broader LGBTQ+ community. The Red Cross welcomes everyone who wishes to be part of our humanitarian mission."
@scrippsnews As of this week, more gay and bisexual men will be able to donate blood through the American Red Cross. The FDA announced new rules on the matter earlier this year. #BloodDonation ♬ original sound - Scripps News
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