Red Cross Expands Blood Donation Guidelines

( – Gay and bisexual men will no longer be restricted from donating blood to the American Red Cross based solely on their orientation. The August 7th announcement from the humanitarian organization follows an FDA decision in May that reversed a decades-old policy that had been in place since the AIDS crisis of the 1980s.

The FDA’s updated guidelines require potential donors to answer a series of questions that determine an individual’s risk profile. Men engaged in monogamous relationships with other men will now be allowed to donate.

Persons of any orientation or gender will be asked to delay their donation by 90 days if they have had multiple intimate partners and anal intercourse during the three months preceding their donation.

In a statement, the Red Cross said they are “committed to achieving” a “donation process” that is “inclusive.” They referred to the change in their donor requirements as “historic” and said that they “celebrate” the FDA’s decision to eliminate policies that are based on “orientation.”

The nonprofit also hailed their change in donor policy as “significant progress.” Red Cross donation centers handle about 40 percent of blood donations in the United States.

In the 1980s the FDA implemented a blanket ban on blood donations from men who identified as gay or bisexual. They relaxed their policies in 2015, but still required the same categories of men to have abstained from intercourse for at least one year before donating blood.

The policy was loosened again in 2020 when donations dropped significantly because of the pandemic. Abstinence requirements for non-straight men dropped from one year to three months.

In 2022, the Red Cross declared a “crisis” after finding that its inventory of donated blood had been depleted. The AMA cited the dilemma and used it to call the FDA’s donation guidelines “discriminatory.” Officials with the AMA then called for policies that prevented many gay and bisexual men from being donors to be lifted.

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