Nonprofit reacts to FDA’s plan to make blood donation more inclusive

The United States Food and Drug Administration is looking into loosening restrictions on blood donations.
Published: Feb. 7, 2023 at 5:46 AM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (13 News) - The Food and Drug Administration is looking into loosening restrictions on blood donations from men who have sex with men to help combat the ever-growing blood shortage.

Right now gay and bisexual men are the only groups in the LGBTQ+ community who face hurdles when going to donate.

The change is expected to go into effect after a 60-day public comment period, which is happening now. If pushed through the move will make thousands of gay and bisexual men across the country eligible to donate blood.

“I was never aware that was a ruling until it actually happened to me,” Ricky De La Cerda the PREP and PEP program manager at Southern Arizona AIDS Foundation said.

De La Cerda was in college when he first went to donate blood. That’s when he first heard what many men who are either gay or bisexual hear. They aren’t able to donate due to strict restrictions put in place during the height of the HIV and AIDS epidemic.

“I think that giving blood is a vital part of our society,” De La Cerda said. “We need to be able to give back to the community and everyone should be able to have that choice.”

Those beliefs are why he says changes aimed at making blood donations more inclusive are key to fighting the nation’s blood shortage.

“There are so many preventative ways to prevent HIV and test for HIV that the likelihood that it is passed through a blood donation is almost impossible,” De La Cerda said.

The new proposal would eliminate the current restrictions in place that make a man ineligible to donate blood if they’ve had same-sex intercourse in the past three months.

Instead, the new process would screen potential donors by looking at that person’s HIV risk, despite their gender.

However, under the new guidance anyone taking HIV medication to both treat and prevent the virus will still not be able to donate blood.

“With all the people that are willing to be able to donate blood and all the test that they can do to make sure there is nothing in it just to make sure there is nothing contagious,” De La Cerda said. “This is 2023, we have to get with the times.”

After the 60-day public comment is closed, the FDA is expected to review and make a final decision later this year.

However, if you would like to give your input on the matter you can click here.