New Guidance Helps Expand Blood Donation Pool


(NewsUSA) - Thought you weren’t eligible to give blood? Updated guidance is making it possible for more people to donate than ever.

Blood donations are essential for surgeries, cancer treatment, chronic illnesses, and traumatic injuries.[1] But only 3% of eligible Americans give blood each year.[1] Recent federal guidance may help change that. In May 2023, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) eliminated its previous blanket waiting period for gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (MSM) and women who have sex with MSM. The agency now recommends individual donor screening assessments to establish eligibility.[2],[3]

“This change represents a shift toward a more inclusive and science-based approach to blood donation eligibility,” says Dr. Kamille West-Mitchell, chief of the blood services section in the transfusion medicine department at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center. “It acknowledges that the focus should be on assessing individual risk factors for bloodborne infections rather than making exclusions based on sexual orientation.”

Other groups who are eligible to donate blood and may not know it include teens who are at least 16 years old (in most states) and people whose chronic conditions are being controlled through treatment.[4],[5]

Under the new guidance, all prospective blood donors, regardless of gender or sexual orientation, will now answer questions about their sexual history to determine whether they are at high risk for HIV. If a prospective donor has had a new sexual partner or more than one sexual partner and had anal sex in the past three months, they will be deferred temporarily.[6] Prospective donors taking medications to prevent or reduce the likelihood of HIV infection (PrEP or PEP) may also be deferred because those drugs may delay detection of HIV.[6]

An equitable donor screening process is critical for a safe and reliable blood supply system,[6] and FDA officials say that the new requirements will continue to ensure the safety of both donors and recipients.[6],[7]

In the meantime, the demand for blood remains constant. Blood banks across the country urgently need donors of all types. But some are in particular demand. For example, Black blood donors can help Black patients with rare blood types who often need blood donated by someone of the same race.

Interested in making a lifesaving difference? Become a donor.

For more information, visit the NHLBI’s Blood Diseases & Disorders Education Program.


[1]Facts About Blood Supply In The U.S. | Red Cross Blood Services

[2]Blood Donation by Gay and Bisexual Men (

[3]Recommendations for Evaluating Donor Eligibility Using Individual Risk-Based Questions to Reduce the Risk of Human Immunodeficiency Virus Transmission by Blood and Blood Products | FDA

[4]Blood Donation Eligibility Requirements | Red Cross Blood Services

[5]Questions About Donating Blood | Red Cross Blood Services

[6]ABC FAQ on FDA's IDA Change (

[7]Inclusive Blood Donation Guidelines Updated | Red Cross Blood