CHICAGO, IL – AIDS Foundation Chicago applauds the move by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to update its blood donation guidelines to move away from a blanket ban on donations from same gender-loving men to a more individualized risk assessment model. However, AFC urges the FDA to continue to review blood donation requirements to allow PrEP users and others to donate while maintaining a safe blood supply.
The ban on blood donations from same gender-loving men has been in place since 1985 as a result of the AIDS crisis of the 80’s, despite scientific advances in HIV testing, treatment and prevention. In 2015, the FDA relaxed these restrictions for the first time to allow same gender-loving men to donate if they had not had anal sex in the previous 12 months. In 2020, that threshold was lowered to the last 3 months when we saw a dangerous decline in the nation’s blood supply due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Under the new guidelines:
These updates are in line with similar changes implemented in Canada and the United Kingdom in recent years, and while they are important and necessary improvements, much remains to be done to eliminate barriers that exclude perfectly safe donors. For example, the proposed updates do not include exceptions for individuals who take pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to prevent HIV, who consistently wear condoms, or who can present a negative HIV test.
PrEP is medication that reduces the chance of contracting HIV by 99% when taken daily. PrEP, approved by the FDA to prevent HIV in 2012, has greatly reduced new HIV transmissions among those who take it for over a decade. Under the new guidelines, individuals who are long-term PrEP users, regardless of whether they also use condoms and consistently test negative for HIV, would be excluded from donating if they have engaged in anal sex with a new or multiple partners in the last three months prior to donating. The new guidelines ignore over a decade of data on the efficacy of PrEP to prevent HIV transmission.
AFC is committed to the safety of the nation’s blood supply while also ensuring that policies do not ignore our most current understanding of HIV prevention and ostracize the LGBTQ+ community.