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American Red Cross eliminates blood donation restrictions targeting gay men

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The American Red Cross has announced the cessation of blood donation restrictions specifically aimed at gay and bisexual men. This policy revision is expected to foster a more inclusive blood donation process, where sexual orientation no longer serves as a barrier to contribution.

The humanitarian organization lauds this historic step forward, emphasizing its commitment to a blood donation system that upholds equality and respect for all potential donors. This update is aligned with the US Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) recent guidance, unveiled in May, and is poised to broaden the pool of eligible donors.

Under the newly adopted individual assessment policy by the FDA, prospective donors are queried about recent sexual activity, including the number of partners in the past three months. Those reporting new partners or multiple partners are subsequently asked about anal intercourse within the same time frame. Donors responding affirmatively to the latter inquiry are temporarily deferred from blood donation.

Anal sex presents an increased risk of transmitting various sexually transmitted infections due to the vulnerable nature of the thin anal lining. This change in regulations supplants previous measures that singled out men who have sex with men (MSM) and women who have sexual relationships with MSM, employing time-based deferrals.

Andrew Goldstein, a cancer researcher hailing from Los Angeles, lauds this revision as a significant milestone. He was once a regular blood donor until the FDA’s former policies, which disqualified him as a gay man, rendered him ineligible. Goldstein, who contributed to a pivotal clinical study in 2021 that paved the way for this new guidance, expresses his joy at the prospect of once again being able to give the gift of life through blood donation.

The American Red Cross emphasizes that every two seconds, an individual in the United States requires blood or platelets, crucial for surgical procedures, cancer treatments, chronic illnesses, or traumatic injuries. The organization underscores that the act of donating blood, whether in the form of whole blood, red cells, platelets, or plasma, lays the foundation for life-saving care that countless patients rely upon.

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