What You Must Know Before Giving Blood


Your accurate and honest responses are critical to the safety of patients who receive blood transfusions

  • Each question is necessary to fully evaluate the safety of your donation.
  • As required by regulations, we are instructing you not to donate blood if you have a risk factor.
  • If you don’t understand a question, ask the blood center staff for assistance.

Knowing what to expect

Most people have uneventful donations and feel good about donating afterward, but some donors may have a lightheaded or dizzy feeling; an upset stomach; a black and blue mark, redness, or pain from the needle; fainting or loss of consciousness and injury from related falls; or very rarely, nerve or artery damage. Blood donation removes iron from the body and may cause or aggravate iron-deficiency anemia.

To determine if you are eligible to donate, we will

  • Ask about your health and medications you are taking or have taken
  • Ask if you have traveled to or lived in other countries.
  • Ask about your risk for infections that can be transmitted by blood – especially HIV (which is the virus that causes AIDS), and viral hepatitis.
  • Take your blood pressure, temperature, and pulse.
  • Take a blood sample to be sure your blood count is acceptable.

If you are eligible to donate, we will

  • Clean your arm with an antiseptic. Tell us if you have any skin allergies.
  • Use a sterile needle and tubing set to collect your blood.

We NEVER reuse a needle and tubing set.

What Happens after Your Donation

To protect patients, your blood is tested for hepatitis B and C, HIV, syphilis, and other infections. If your blood tests positive, it will not be given to a patient. You will be notified about any positive test result which may affect when you are eligible to donate in the future. There are times when your blood is not tested. If this occurs, you may not receive any notification. The blood center will not release your test results without your written permission unless required by law (e.g., to the health department).

Donor Eligibility – Specific Information

Certain infectious diseases such as HIV and hepatitis, can be spread through:

  • Sexual contact
  • Other activities that increase risk
  • Blood transfusion

We will ask specific questions about sexual contact and other activities that may increase risk for these infections.

What do we mean by “sexual contact?”

The words “have sexual contact with” and “sex” are used in some of the questions we will ask you, These questions, apply to all of the activities below, whether or not medications, condoms or other protection were used to prevent infection or pregnancy:

  • Vaginal sex (contact between penis and vagina)
  • Oral sex (mouth or tongue on someone’s vagina, penis, or anus)
  • Anal sex (contact between penis and anus)

A "new sexual partner" includes the following examples:

  • Having sex with someone for the first time


  • Having had sex with someone in a relationship that ended in the past, and having sex again with that person in the last 3 months.

HIV/Hepatitis Risk Factors

HIV and hepatitis are spread mainly by sexual contact with an infected person OR by sharing needles or syringes used by an infected person to inject drugs.


  • Have EVER taken any medication to treat HIV infection.
  • Are taking any medication to prevent HIV infection. These medications may be called: PrEP, PEP, TRUVADA, DESCOVY, APRETUDE or many other names.

FDA-approved antiretroviral drugs are safe and effective in preventing sexual transmission of HIV. However, these antiretroviral drugs do not fully eliminate the virus from the body, and donated blood can potentially still transmit HIV infection to a transfusion recipient.



  • Have ever had a positive test for HIV infection

In the past 3 Months:

  • Have had sexual contact with a new partner and have had anal sex.
  • Have had sexual contact with more than one partner and have had anal sex.
  • Have had sexual contact with anyone who has ever had a positive test for HIV infection
  • Have received money, drugs or other payment for sex
  • Have used needles to inject drugs, steroids or anything not prescribed by your doctor.
  • Have had sexual contact with anyone who has received money, drugs, or other payment for sex, or used needles to inject drugs, steroids or anything not prescribed by their doctor.
  • Have had syphilis or gonorrhea or been treated for syphilis or gonorrhea

In the past 12 Months:

  • Have been in juvenile detention, lockup, jail, or prison for 72 hours or more consecutively
  • Have ever had Ebola virus infection or disease.

DO NOT DONATE if you have these symptoms, which can be present before you test positive for HIV:

  • Fever
  • Enlarged lymph glands
  • Sore throat
  • Rash

Your blood can transmit infections, including HIV, even if you feel well and all your tests are normal. EVEN the best tests cannot detect the virus for a period of time after you are infected.


  • If you think you may be at risk for HIV or other infections.
  • If your purpose for donating is to obtain test results for HIV or other infections. Ask us where you can be tested for HIV and other infections.
  • If your donation might harm the patient who receives your blood.

We maintain a confidential list of people who may be at risk for spreading transfusion-transmitted diseases. By continuing this process, you consent to be entered in this confidential list of deferred donors if you are at risk for spreading such diseases. When required, we report donor information, including test results, to health departments, military medical commands, and regulatory agencies. Donation information may also be used confidentially for research related to blood safety.


We may contact you at any phone number or e-mail address you provide, including by automated telephone call or text, regarding your blood donation, future blood donations, and other opportunities to support the American Red Cross mission. You may choose not to provide a particular phone number or e-mail address if you do not want us to use it for these purposes.


We will ask you to confirm information that we have in your computer record to ensure we have the most updated information. You will be asked to confirm all of your demographic information, including your gender. This will ensure that the information we have is current and correct.

Questions? Please call us at 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767)


Legacy Doc No: 15.4.fs402 Rev# 6