On Monday, the United Kingdom (UK) announced changes to their blood donation policies that will impact men who have sex with men (MSM). As of Summer 2021, the UK will revise their guidelines to adopt a more individual risk-based approach removing the current three-month deferral for MSM. The new policy will allow “donors who have had one sexual partner and who have been with their sexual partner for more than three months to be eligible to donate.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) provided new information on their pilot study ADVANCE (Assessing Donor Variability and new Concepts in Eligibility) which will examine the potential for the U.S. to move to an individual risk-based approach. The ADVANCE study is looking at data from approximately 2,000 MSM to help determine if a “donor questionnaire based on individual risk would be as effective as time-based deferrals in reducing the risk of HIV,” the FDA said.
America’s Blood Centers and its members remain committed to maintaining a safe and available blood supply and treating all potential donors with fairness, equality, and respect. America’s Blood Centers supports the deferral criteria change from FDA earlier this year and continues to encourage ongoing work to establish donor-screening based on individual behaviors, not sexual or gender identity. The use of rational, science-based deferral periods must be applied fairly and consistently among blood donors. You can view ABC’s official position on MSM deferral guidelines.