Three Month Blood Donation Deferral Policy a Step in the Right Direction, But Perpetuates Discrimination


CONTACT: Helen Parshall | 202-876-2823

WASHINGTON — The Food and Drug Administration announced today that effective immediately, amidst the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, it has eased its deferral period requiring gay and bisexual men to be celibate before being eligible to donate blood from twelve months to three. Additionally, the deferral for sex workers and people who inject drugs was reduced from indefinite to three months.

“While easing these restrictions is an important step forward, even the three-month deferral continues to perpetuate discrimination,” said Carl Baloney Jr., AIDS United vice president for policy and advocacy. “We call on the FDA to move to an individualized, comprehensive and effective deferral system for all donors based on actual — not perceived — risk.”

“For decades, we have known that HIV is not a ‘gay disease’ and a government policy that equates being gay with living with HIV is indefensible. And we know that there are many people with underlying health conditions — including people living with HIV — who have a higher risk of complications from COVID-19,” Baloney continued. “Consequently, AIDS United calls for implementation of a risk-based deferral system for all donors — not just gay and bisexual men — improving the safety of our nation’s blood supply without perpetuating discrimination and protecting the health of all our communities with access to needed resources.”

AIDS United has long recommended that the FDA establish policies that carefully distinguish between high- and low-risk behavior based on a modern and medically-based understanding of HIV transmission. Countries such as Italy, Spain, Mexico, Chile, Uruguay, Poland and Russia have successfully implemented similar blood donation policies.

AIDS United also urges the FDA to move forward with the implementation of a hemovigilance system to track, report, investigate and analyze risks and adverse reactions that can occur as a result of blood transfusion.

“Such a system would increase the safety of the blood supply and provide an early warning system for potential threats. In alignment with our friends in the hemophilia and blood products recipient communities, we urge the FDA to move forward on a hemovigilance system that increases the safety of the blood supply,” said Baloney. “We urge the FDA to take these steps to improve the safety of our blood supply without perpetuating discrimination.”


ABOUT AIDS UNITED: AIDS United’s mission is to end the HIV epidemic in the U.S. through strategic grant-making, capacity building and policy. AIDS United works to ensure access to life-saving HIV care and prevention services and to advance sound HIV-related policy for populations and communities most impacted by the U.S. epidemic. To date, our strategic grant-making initiatives have directly funded more than $104 million to local communities and have leveraged more than $117 million in additional investments for programs that include but are not limited to HIV prevention, access to care, capacity building, harm reduction and advocacy. Learn more at