FDA proposes new blood donation guidelines

WSMV's Justina Latimer reports.
Published: Jan. 27, 2023 at 11:21 PM CST
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - The FDA released proposed guidelines that would ease restrictions on blood donations for gay and bisexual men. With recent blood shortages nationwide, the changes will impact donation centers all over.

“I think the exciting thing to talk about is that change is on the horizon,” said Dr. Liz Culler, Blood Assurance, Chief Medical Officer.

Under the FDA’s new proposed guidelines, the donor history questionnaire would be revised and instead ask all donors about new or multiple sexual partners in the last three months.

According to Dr. Culler, this change would allow them to accept more potential donors.

“This allows us to keep the blood supply safe because we are better at defining what is a high-risk behavior for HIV. It really is having multiple or new sex partners and having anal intercourse, " Dr. Culler explained.

The idea would be to eliminate the current three-month abstinence rule for donations from men who have sex with men.

“I’ve struggled with the previous guidelines. I always wanted to donate blood. But after I affirmed my true self, I decided maybe I didn’t care enough to give away my free blood,” stated H.G. Stovall, Executive Director of Nashville Launch Pad.

The proposed change is something Stovall is excited about.

“What this does is bring us to a time with decision making based on science not based on fear and discrimination,” said Stovall.

While changes are in the making, Dr. Culler says it will take time.

“This is just a draft guidance. There will be a 60-day period where the FDA will collect comments,” Culler said. “Then, they anticipate releasing the final guidance a few weeks later. Then it will take us several months to make the changes in our computer system.”