Aug 10, 2023 - News

More gay, bisexual men in Philly can donate blood

Officials hope new rules ease donor shortages. Photo by Sven Hoppe/picture alliance via Getty Images

New rules are in effect to allow more gay and bisexual men to donate blood.

Driving the news: The Red Cross began accepting those donations this week after the FDA updated its rules about donor eligibility.

Why it matters: The changes demand a more inclusive screening process to evaluate risk for HIV, a move that's expected to reduce blood shortages by opening up the donor pool.

Zoom in: The screening process may feel more probing as there are specific questions about a person's sexual history, Jefferson Health's Julie Karp tells the Inquirer.

By the numbers: The Red Cross saw 50,000 fewer donations than needed from the Philly region over May and June.

  • The group says only 3% of eligible people donate blood, per CBS News.

What they're saying: LGBTQ advocates felt the previous rules, which were intended to guard against HIV, were antiquated and discriminatory because they kept men who have sex with men from donating unless they abstained from sex for three months.

  • Philly's Mazzoni Center applauded the changes when they were unveiled in May but also said the FDA had more to do to ensure "guidelines are entirely based on current scientific evidence and medical knowledge, rather than stereotypes and assumptions rooted in homophobia or Puritanism," per the Inquirer.

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