American Red Cross changing its policy on blood donations for gay, bisexual men

Virginia News

(Photo: Courtesy MGN Online)

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The American Red Cross announced Tuesday that it is changing its restrictions on blood donations from gay and bisexual men.

Currently, men who have sex with other men, referred to as MSM by the Red Cross, cannot donate blood within 12 months of having sex with another man. Starting Monday, June 8, the wait time is three months.

Reducing the deferral for MSM is an important advance in our efforts to achieve blood a donation process that treats all potential donors with equity and respect, and ensures that a safe, sufficient blood supply is readily available for patients in need. The Red Cross remains committed to building an inclusive environment that embraces diversity for all those who engage with our lifesaving mission and does not believe blood donation eligibility should be determined by methods that are based upon sexual orientation.

CHRIS HROUDA, PRESIDENT OF BIOMEDICAL SERVICES

The Red Cross’ policies were put in place based on recommendations from the Food and Drug Administration to prevent the spread of HIV.

The Associated Press reported the FDA put a lifetime donation ban on gay and bisexual men in 1983 during the AIDS epidemic. The policy was changed in 2015 to the 12-month deferral. It was reduced again earlier this year to three months.

The Red Cross said it is updating donor records of those who are currently deferred under the previous MSM policy. All records should be updated by the end of July.

In addition to gay and bisexual men, the Red Cross’ policy also affects women who have sex with an MSM man and donors with recent tattoos or piercings.

You can learn more about donation eligibility on the Red Cross’ website.

For a list of upcoming blood drives in the Blue Ridge area, click here.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this story.

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