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FDA Allows More Gay and Bisexual Men to Donate Blood

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if they had engaged in sex in the past three months. That change — necessitated by the need for plasma, especially from individuals who had been infected with but overcame COVID-19, as a treatment for infected individuals — replaced a longer 12-month deferral period for men who have sex with men, which was imposed in 2015, supplanting a lifetime ban on gay or bisexual male donors.In place of a categorical deferral, the FDA will instead institute a risk-based questionnaire asking the same questions of all donors, regardless of sexual orientation, biological sex, or gender identity.

The questions will deal with past and present drug use, sexual behaviors, and sexual history, including whether individuals have engaged in sex for money.

Donor eligibility will be determined based on individuals’ responses to the questionnaire. Those with new or multiple sex partners in the last three months, as well as those who have engaged in anal sex, will be deferred from donating for three months.

The change is intended to reduce the likelihood of donations from individuals who may have recently been infected with HIV or other bloodborne pathogens.“The FDA has worked diligently to evaluate our policies and ensure we had the scientific evidence to support individual risk assessment for donor eligibility while maintaining appropriate safeguards to protect recipients of blood products,” Peter Marks, the director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, told The New York Times.Perhaps the biggest change for the LGBTQ community is that monogamous gay and bisexual men will be allowed to donate blood under the new guidelines.

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