Support for LAist comes from
We Explain L.A.
Stay Connected

Share This


The FDA Considers Easing Restrictions On Blood Donations By Gay And Bisexual Men

Rows of vials for collecting blood are capped in red and purple.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued proposed guidance Friday to ease restrictions on blood donations by men who have sex with men. It will mark the most significant policy change since the AIDS crisis led officials to ban men who have sex with men for giving blood.
(Justin Sullivan
Getty Images)
We need to hear from you.
Today, put a dollar value on the trustworthy reporting you rely on all year long. The local news you read here every day is crafted for you, but right now, we need your help to keep it going. In these uncertain times, your support is even more important. We can't hold those in power accountable and uplift voices from the community without your partnership. Thank you.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued proposed guidance Friday to ease restrictions on blood donations by men who have sex with men.

The change is expected to take effect after a public comment period.

The restrictions on donating blood date back to the early days of the AIDS epidemic and were designed to protect the blood supply from HIV. Originally, gay and bisexual men were completely prohibited from donating blood. Over time, the FDA relaxed the lifetime ban, but still kept in place some limits.

'Long Overdue' Is Reaction In SoCal
  • When Richard Zaldivar, the executive director and founder of The Wall Las Memorias, heard of the news, he said this is a step in the right direction, even if it's long overdue.

  • "After they finally approve of this and we're on to a new chapter in blood donation, that we have learned the lesson that we can't discriminate based upon sexual identity or orientation," said Zaldivar.

  • For the past 28 years, The Wall Las Memorias has been serving the Latino and LGBTQ+ community in L.A. by educating and providing resources on HIV/AIDS, mental health and other wellness areas.

  • Zaldivar says that for the longest time, the ability to donate blood was classist, because there was always a barrier based on gender identity and sexual orientation.

  • "The majority of gay men are not HIV positive, but yet, you know, they would like to be able to give back to community. I mean, I am the same situation, you know?" said Zaldivar.

  • He says the next step is to continue pointing out outdated and discriminatory health regulations.

  • — Gillian Moràn Peréz

Support for LAist comes from

Under the current policy — last updated in 2020 — men who have sex with men can donate blood if they haven't had sexual contact with other men for three months.

The new proposed policy would eliminate the time-based restrictions on men who have sex with men (and their female partners) and instead assess potential donors' eligibility based on a series of questions that assess their HIV risk, regardless of gender. Anyone taking medications to treat or prevent HIV, including PrEP, would not be eligible.

The risk assessment would include questions about anal sex. Potential donors who've had anal sex in the last three months with a new sexual partner or more than one sexual partner would not be eligible to give blood.

The changes are aimed at addressing criticism that the current policy is discriminatory and outdated, as well as one more barrier to bolstering the nation's blood supply. Blood banks already routinely screen donated blood for HIV.

In crafting the new guidance, the FDA has been looking to the results of a study of about 1,600 gay and bisexual men to develop screening questions that can identify potential donors who are most likely to be infected with HIV.

For many years, the American Medical Association, the American Red Cross and LGBTQ+ advocacy groups have been pushing for a change to the federal rules on blood donations.

"It's a discriminatory policy that assumes that HIV is a gay disease, and it is very much not," Tony Morrison from the group GLAAD, told NPR in December. "This is what we have been advocating for for many, many years."

What questions do you have about Southern California?

Updated January 27, 2023 at 1:09 PM PST
This story was updated with local L.A. reaction.
Most Read