Making Giving Blood More Inclusive

Opening the door for more people to give.


Health, Inclusive
Donating blood.

(Monkey Business Images /

Donating blood has just become much more inclusive. That’s because on May 11, 2023, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) lifted the restrictions that prohibited gay and bisexual men from donating blood. This is a long-overdue change.

This 40-year-old practice began during the AIDS epidemic to protect the blood supply, reported NPR, and was revised in 2020 but was still discriminatory. That’s because blood banks already screen donated blood for infectious diseases like HIV.

New policy
The updated blood donation policy is based on the best scientific data available and will put the US in line with the policies of the UK and Canada, according to a press release from the FDA.

“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. The implementation of these recommendations will represent a  significant milestone for the agency and the LGBTQI+ community,” said Peter Marks, MD, PhD, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research in the press release.

The new guidelines ask all potential donors to complete an individualized risk assessment, regardless of  gender or sexual orientation, reported NBC News. People who engage in risky behavior will still not be allowed to donate blood.

A welcome change
The American Medical Association, American Red Cross, and many LGBTQ+ advocacy groups have been calling for a rules change for decades, according to NPR.

“This shift toward individual donor assessments prioritizes the safety of America's blood supply while treating all donors with the fairness and respect they deserve,” said Kate Fry, CEO of America's Blood Centers in a press release.

“We are proud that America is now joining many nations around the world in changing our existing policies, which have historically stigmatized certain communities. It is important to note that these changes cannot be implemented overnight. We will continue working with our member blood centers to welcome impacted donors as quickly as possible,” said Fry.

This will increase the number of people who can donate blood. While some groups say that the policy is still not as open as it should be, it is still a step in the right direction.

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