News & Events
On December 6, 2023 Bloodworks Northwest is implementing the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s new individual donor assessment guidance for all blood donors. Press Release.
Blood Donor Eligibility Update: Read the facts about the Individual Donor Assessment.
New Era of Blood Donor Eligibility: Press Release FDA Deferral Lifted New Donor Eligibility Implemented
FDA Eases Restrictions On Blood Donations for Gay, Bisexual Men
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has formally announced its decision to implement gender-inclusive, individual risk assessment of all blood donors to reduce the risk of HIV in the blood supply.
An individual risk assessment of all donors will maintain the safety of the blood supply, make blood donation more inclusive, ensure all donors are treated equally, and enable more people the opportunity to donate blood.
Bloodworks joins blood centers across America supporting final FDA guidance implementing individual blood donor assessments based on science.
“Bloodworks Northwest has supported changing the FDA policy regarding blood donation by men who have sex with men (MSM) to end discriminatory practices against the LGBTQ+ community and increase the pool of eligible blood donors based on data about high risk behaviors rather than social group,” said Dr. Kirsten Alcorn, Co-Chief Medical Officer at Bloodworks Northwest. “We have enthusiastically advocated for equality and inclusivity in the blood donation process while maintaining blood supply safety and applaud today’s FDA announcement of the change to an individual risk assessment in determining donor eligibility. This proposed policy change is based on the individual behavior of the prospective donor and not on their sexual orientation or gender. This means that ALL prospective donors will be asked the same risk-based questionnaire when signing up to give blood. While these changes may take months to implement, we look forward to swiftly implementing the new guidance and welcoming donors who have previously been deferred from blood donation.”
Bloodworks Northwest’s mission supports everyone in our community, saving lives every day.
Since the mid-80s, men who have had sex with men (MSM) have been ineligible to donate blood based on Food and Drug Administration (FDA) policy. The deferral changed to one year beginning in 2015 and on April 2nd 2020 the FDA changed its guidelines from a 1-year deferral to a 3-month deferral. This means men who have not had sexual contact with another man in the past 3 months can be eligible to donate blood, but this change still leaves many who want to donate blood unable to do so. On May 11, 2023 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) formally announced its decision to implement gender-inclusive, individual risk assessment of all blood donors to reduce the risk of HIV in the blood supply. We look forward to working swiftly in the coming months to implement this guidance and welcome donors who have previously been deferred from blood donation.
Bloodworks and its LGBTQ community partners continue to urge the FDA to change their MSM donation deferral based on testing reliability and the latest medical science to ensure the continued safety of the community blood supply.
We’ve been active supporters of changing the MSM deferral for over a decade: publicly, in the media, and in regulatory and medical policy. We actively pursue equity in our provision of Continuing Medical Education for area physicians, including LGBT health training to address disparities. We have longstanding partnerships with outstanding organizations, including the GSBA, Gay City: Seattle’s LGBTQ Center, and the Q Center in Portland. We regularly host allied blood drives and was the first U.S. blood center to participate in Pride events.
Every day, Bloodworks provides blood to people at 100 Pacific Northwest hospitals. We are proud to join healthcare partners from Swedish Hospital, Seattle Children’s Hospital, Virginia Mason, Cambia Health, Kaiser Permanente, and Seattle Cancer Care Alliance in supporting year-round health equity and inclusion for all.
Our pursuit of equitable, science-based eligibility
Bloodworks & its LGBTQ community partners believe in creating an equal opportunity for everyone to save lives. If you can’t donate blood, there are other inclusive ways to support patients in our community.
- Donate blood for research: FDA MSM deferral does not apply
- Give a financial gift: we’re looking for community partners to sponsor change
- Volunteer time: monitor and care for donors post-donation
Advocacy In The News:
Work has already begun to develop specifics of the timeline to welcome newly eligible donors under the new guidance, a process that will take time.
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