Aug 7, 2023 - Health

Red Cross implements end to blood donor restrictions on gay, bisexual men

A person donates blood during a Children's Hospital Los Angeles blood donation drive in Jan. 2022. Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

More gay and bisexual men will be able to donate blood beginning Monday as the Red Cross starts implementing a historic rule change approved by federal authorities earlier this year.

Why it matters: It helps close the chapter on the Food and Drug Administration's blood donor restrictions for men who have sex with men, which had been denounced as discriminatory by medical and LGBTQ organizations.

  • The restrictions were established during the HIV/AIDS crisis in the 1980s.

The big picture: Starting Monday, individual donor risk assessments will be conducted for all potential donors regardless of gender or sexual orientation, per the Red Cross.

  • "The Red Cross celebrates this significant progress and also recognizes there is more work to be done to make blood donation even more inclusive," the organization said.
  • All potential donors will complete the same risk assessment questionnaire to determine their recent sexual activity, with the aim of reducing "the risk of transfusion-transmitted HIV," according to the FDA.
  • The FDA said in May that the new rules would potentially increase the number of people eligible to donate blood.

Zoom out: The Red Cross says it provides around 40% of the country's blood and blood components — but has warned of severe shortages.

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