FDA proposes policy change that would have blood donor screening be based on individuals and not sexual or gender identity
An FDA proposal would make more people eligible to donate blood at a time where there is a critical need for donations.
If adopted, the policy change would ease restrictions on gay and bisexual men from donating blood. Those restrictions date back to the early days of the AIDS epidemic.
The updated guidance from the FDA would create blood donor screening based on individuals and not sexual or gender identity.
Senior Vice President of the New York Blood Center Andrea Cefarelli says the recommended changes will make a big different, if and when they are implemented.
"The New York Blood Center really applauds the FDA guidance that came out today that changes the individual eligibility criteria to be gender inclusive and based on individual donor behavior," Cefarelli says.
Under the new guidance, the FDA says one of the bigger changes is that time-based deferrals for women and men who have sex with the same gender would be eliminated.
David Kilmnick, of the LGBT Network of Long Island, says it's been a long journey for the LGBTQ+ population.
In 1983, the FDA instituted a lifetime deferral on blood donations for gay and bisexual men during the AIDs epidemic.
In 2015, the FDA revised their policy and moved to a 12-month deferral than a three-month in 2020.
"I remember back on Sept. 11 when it was our call to duty as Americans to donate blood and when I couldn't donate blood just simply because I was a gay American," Kilmnick says. "It reminded me of the inequality that exists."
The proposal will be open for public comment for 60 days.
The agency will then review and consider all comments before finalizing the new guidance.