WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — The Red Cross has now implemented an end to blood donor restrictions on gay and bisexual men as a result of the FDA’s new guidance.
“This is one of the most significant changes in blood banking history,” Red Cross Senior Biomedical Communications Specialist Rodney Wilson said. “We examine individuals and whatever risks that they may have for exposure to HIV, rather than asking them about their sexual orientation.
To keep the blood supply safe, there are now new questions and regulations approved by the FDA that will apply to all donors. Wilson said the changes will help them meet the constant demand for blood.
“More people engaging, anybody who is willing to roll up their sleeve to donate blood is welcome to do so,” Wilson said.
The Red Cross estimates only about 3% of the U.S. population donates blood every year. Other organizations, like America’s blood centers, are slowly rolling out the same policy.
“It is hoped that this will allow a whole new segment of donors. At the same time, addressing a potential risk in donors who weren’t asked those questions,” America’s Blood Centers Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jed Gorlin said.
Advocacy groups, like the Human Rights Campaign, welcome the change.
“We certainly see a likelihood of an increase not only by gay and bisexual men, but by other Americans who were reluctant to donate because of these discriminatory policies,” Human Rights Campaign Legal Vice President Sarah Warbelow said.
Now, H.R.C. is urging the FDA to advance blood pathogen technology, making safe donations possible even from someone with HIV.