Inclusiveness and Equality, A New Age in Blood Banking
Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center is pleased to announce that we have officially implemented The Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) final guidelines, allowing gay and bisexual men to donate blood without a deferral period based solely on their sexual orientation. With this change, we welcome newly eligible individuals to donate blood at the beginning of November.
The FDA initially imposed a ban on donations from gay and bisexual men in response to the HIV/AIDS crisis of the 1980s. In recent years, the FDA has made some adjustments to these regulations but did not eliminate them entirely. Now, the new guidelines establish a blood donor screening criteria based on individual sexual behaviors, not sexual or gender identity. This change ensures that the act of saving lives through blood donations is accessible to everyone.
The updated guidelines revise the donor history questionnaire to ask ALL donors about new or multiple sexual partners in the past three months. This recognizes the fact that susceptibility to infectious diseases like HIV is not limited by sexual orientation. By eliminating outdated restrictions on donations from gay and bisexual men, we are taking a significant stride towards inclusivity and a more robust blood supply for patients in our community.
“It is anticipated that the more equitable eligibility standards will bring individuals to our donor centers who might otherwise have been deferred in the past” said Dr. Beth Hartwell M.D., Chief Medical Officer at Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center. “We encourage individuals who were previously deferred under the old policy to consider blood donation as long as they meet all other requirements to be a blood donor,” Dr. Hartwell said.
Our donor history questionnaire is just one part of a multi-step process designed to uphold the safety of the blood supply. Following a donation, all blood undergoes roughly a dozen tests to scan for the presence of infectious diseases, including HIV, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, and Syphilis. These multiple layers of safety ensure donated blood remains safe for the millions of individuals who rely on blood transfusions each year.
The changes are the result of an extensive review of the latest scientific evidence, advancements in blood screening technologies, and an evolving understanding of HIV transmission. This change is supported by data collected through the Department of Health and Human Services’ Transfusion Transmitted Infections Monitoring System (TTIMS) and the recent Assessing Donor Variability and New Concepts in Eligibility (ADVANCE) Study. The FDA has long engaged in collecting data on the safety of the blood supply and will continue this collection of data.
“Much research has been done to ensure the ongoing safety of the blood supply prior to implementing this change. We are excited to see new donors who can help further our mission to save and sustain patient lives,” said Dr. Hartwell
Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center extends an invitation to all, and as of November 1st, we welcome new donors to join us in our mission to save lives. For additional details, please visit giveblood.org/lgbtq. Let's work together towards a brighter future and a new age in blood banking.
Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center is the sole provider of blood and blood components 24/7 to more than 170 hospitals and health care facilities in a 26-county Texas Gulf Coast region. Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center is a nonprofit organization accredited by the Food and Drug Administration.