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US Red Cross Makes A Historic Step Forward for Gay Blood Donations

by | Dec 7, 2023

For decades, the LGBTQ+ community has faced formidable obstacles when it comes to donating blood. But there are big changes coming for gay blood donations in the USA. 

Historically, gay and bisexual men were subjected to discriminatory policies that prohibited gay and bisexual men from contributing to saving lives.  Requirements such as abstaining from sexual interactions with men for at least a year before becoming eligible. 

However, a transformative change is on the horizon. Recently the American Red Cross recently announced its decision to align with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) new guidelines. It marks a significant milestone in the journey toward equality and inclusivity in blood donation.

Gay Blood Donations Are Easier With Looser Restrictions

In the 1980’s the FDA introduced a blanket ban on gay people donating blood. They did so at the peak of the AIDS crisis. At the time the restrictions, in the eyes of some, was justified. There wasn’t much known about HIV or AIDS. It led to many people in hospitals being left to die alone, and our community was disproportionately affected. 

A blanket ban that was still in effect until not too long ago. We are on the brink of an HIV cure, but laws, until now, have remained unchanged. 

But all that is about to change. 

In May, the FDA introduced groundbreaking changes to blood donation eligibility criteria. Instead of a blanket ban, potential donors are now required to answer individual, risk-based questions to determine their eligibility. 

Men in monogamous relationships with other men are now able to donate blood without discrimination. But laws are also becoming more fair. Promiscuous individuals engaging in anal sex, regardless of gender or sexual orientation, will be asked to wait three months before donating blood. 

Essentially this is the HIV window period. The window period is the time that it would take for someone to seroconvert. Seroconversion is the body’s transition from virus entry to present antibodies in the blood. Anyone can undergo this process once they become infected with HIV. Seroconversion is not specific to one community. 

The new approach ensures that blood donation policies are no longer based on sexual orientation. Instead, focused on individual risk factors, marking monumental shift in policy.

Unprecedented Progress For Gay Blood Donations

What sets this change apart is its pioneering nature in the global context. The U.S. has now joined the ranks of Canada and the United Kingdom in adopting a blood donation policy based on the best available scientific evidence. No longer are they relying on outdated stereotypes. The move acknowledges that sexual orientation is not the sole determinant of blood safety. It’s recognition that HIV can affect anyone. 

This change is nothing short of revolutionary for gay and bisexual men living in the USA. 

Let’s celebrate this historic change. We need to celebrate our wins as they fall in our laps. It’s not often an external agency or organization steps up to make a change that benefits us. At least not without internal self-interests. 

We invite you to share your thoughts on this milestone. Have you or someone you know been affected by the previous blood donation policies? What does this change mean for you? Let us know your thoughts below because we think the change is a massive step forward.

Has anyone you know ever been affected by these archaic laws? If so, feel free to share this groundbreaking news with them. It could make their day knowing that we are no longer being ostracized. 

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Sean Kivi

Sean Kivi


Sean Kivi holds a master's degree from the University of Nottingham in translation studies from Spanish to English. He specializes in writing about gay culture and its influence on discourse. Sean speaks Spanish fluently and focuses on translating gay-themed literature to English and analyzing the discourse to understand how our culture is universal yet distinct in countries worldwide. He has translated for authors in Mexico and completed case studies related to machismo and its influences on gay culture in Latin America.

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