The FDA guidance “Revised Recommendations for Reducing the Risk of Human Immunodeficiency Virus Transmission by Blood and Blood Products” states, “Defer for 12 months from the most recent sexual contact, a man who has had sex with another man during the past 12 months.” All U.S. blood collection organizations must follow this federal requirement.
The Red Cross recognizes the hurt this policy has caused to many in the LGBTQ+ community and believes blood donation eligibility should not be determined by methods that are based upon sexual orientation. We are committed to working toward achieving this goal.
However, as a regulated organization, we cannot unilaterally enact changes concerning the MSM deferral policy. At this time, the Red Cross advocates for a scientifically based interim step by encouraging the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to consider reducing its deferral time for MSM from twelve to three months. A three-month deferral period is consistent with policy changes made by several other countries including Canada and Great Britain and has a scientific rationale in that it corresponds to the period of risk when tests cannot detect early infection.
Over the past several years the Red Cross, in collaboration with other U.S. blood providers, has collected data related to the safety of the current 12-month MSM deferral. Additionally, we continue to assist in evaluating alternative donor eligibility criteria and the expanded use of new technologies to work toward elimination of donor eligibility questions based on sexual orientation that would no longer be necessary.
The Red Cross is supportive of FDA’s current evaluation of modifying donor eligibility questions by sponsoring studies that engage the MSM community interested in blood donation. Such studies will begin to consider whether specific behavioral questions are able to identify individuals who may have HIV or other infectious diseases, or are at increased risk, and should not give blood.
View our full statement regarding the FDAs MSM deferral policy.