GLMA Welcomes Updates to FDA Blood Ban, Encourages Members to Comment on Changes

This morning, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a proposal to update the guidelines surrounding blood donation by gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (MSM). The proposal outlines a significant shift from stigma-laden policies that unfairly deferred LGBTQ+ community members based on their identities toward an evidence-based framework to assess individual risk of HIV transmission. 

On Friday, January 27, 2023, GLMA President Nick Grant, PhD, ABPP, and Interim Executive Director Alex Sheldon, MA, responded with the following statement:

“GLMA commends the FDA’s long-awaited steps toward modernizing blood donation policies to rely on scientific evidence and eliminate outdated, stigmatizing restrictions against gay, bisexual, and other MSM. As the largest and oldest association of LGBTQ+ health professionals, GLMA has spent decades advocating for the removal of such discriminatory restrictions barring members of our community from donating blood. 

“The FDA’s proposed guidance undoubtedly signals progress in LGBTQ+ health equity, but there remains work to be done. Within the draft policy, for example, there remain restrictions on those who engage in sex work and those who have a history of non-prescription injection drug use. 

“Additionally, the proposed guidelines include deferrals for those using medications to prevent HIV transmission, including PrEP, PEP, and antiretrovirals. We recognize the fact that such prophylaxis can delay HIV status from detection, but we encourage a refining of the assessment criteria to maintain the safety of our nation’s blood supply while honoring the integral role of these medications in the fight against HIV and avoiding further stigmatization.

“The proposed policy will be subject to a 60-day public comment period, then subject to revision by the FDA. When the public comment period opens, the expert voices of LGBTQ+ health professionals will be vital. We call upon GLMA members from all disciplines to thoughtfully engage with the entirety of these guidelines, review the scientific evidence underpinning the proposed changes, and submit official comment in response. We will share opportunities to do so as they develop.”