Blood Donation by Gay and Bisexual Men

Blood donors give a gift for which there is no substitute. At AABB, we believe that the ability to save lives through donation of safe blood products should be open to as many people as possible, irrespective of their sexual orientation or gender identity. That’s why AABB has led efforts to make blood donation inclusive of non-binary donors and championed the adoption of equitable, science-based individual donor assessment (IDA) processes to determine blood donor eligibility that welcome LGBTQ+ blood donors, strengthen the blood supply and save lives.

FDA Approves Historic Expansion of Donor Eligibility

On May 11, 2023, the Food and Drug Administration issued a final guidance eliminating time-based blood donor deferral periods for gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (MSM) and women who have sex with MSM. The agency now recommends a new donor screening process that uses individual donor assessment - a donor screening process that uses gender-inclusive, individual donor-based questions for all individuals - to establish eligibility.

AABB is committed to helping the blood community implement the recommendations as quickly as possible.

This page includes information for the public on current policies that apply to MSM, as well as the latest updates on efforts to expand donor eligibility. AABB will continue to update this page as new information becomes available.

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Frequently Asked Questions

AABB will update this page as new information becomes available to ensure it includes the most current information to support blood donation.

Who determines blood donor eligibility requirements?

FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research (CBER) regulates all aspects of the blood supply, establishing requirements for the collection and testing of blood, which includes the steps to determine blood donor eligibility.

Can gay and bisexual men (MSM) donate blood?

Yes. In May 2023, the FDA issued revised donor deferral recommendations to include gender-inclusive, sexual behavior-based screening questions for all blood donors. With this change, the donor history questionnaire used to screen blood donors is based on individual assessments for each potential donor and no longer includes questions specific to MSM.

The new criteria ask all donors, regardless of gender or sexual orientation, if they’ve had a new or multiple sexual partners in the past three months. If a donor answers yes to having had a new or multiple sexual partners, they will be asked if they’ve had anal sex with any of these partners.

Donors who report having had a new sexual partner, or more than one sexual partner in the past three months and anal sex in the past three months, will be required to wait three months from the date they most recently had anal sex to donate. If they have not, and meet all other eligibility criteria, they will be able to donate. This change means that more sexually active gay, bisexual and other MSM will be eligible to donate blood.

If all donations are tested for transfusion-transmitted infections like HIV, why defer anyone from blood donation?

Despite the use of the most sensitive and accurate testing methods available today, there is still a period of time after a person becomes infected when it is not yet possible to detect the presence of HIV, hepatitis and other infections. This is called the “window period.” A “window period” blood donation means a recently infected person can unknowingly transmit a virus through donation and the donor may still test negative because testing methods cannot detect this early infection. A “window period” donation increases the risk for transmission of HIV and viruses that cause hepatitis B and C infections.

The use of blood donor screening questions helps to assess the time frame for a potential “window period” donation to reduce the risk of transmission of the undetected virus to a patient.

Can I donate blood if I am taking a medication to prevent HIV?

AABB’s FAQs About Blood and Blood Donation web page provides information for ALL donors related to the use of medication to prevent HIV infection, including those known as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) or post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP).

When will the new donor eligibility criteria take effect?

Following FDA’s issue of the new guidance and formal recognition of the donor history questionnaire v4.0 in May 2023, blood collection facilities throughout the United States are now permitted to begin the  process to carefully implement the new eligibility criteria. Depending on the individual blood collection facility, this process is expected to take between two and six months.

Blood collection facilities are looking forward to welcoming new and returning donors as soon as the extensive work is completed and are working diligently to do so. AABB encourages potential donors to contact their nearest blood collector directly to confirm when the facility will introduce the new criteria.

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