Washington, DC - America’s Blood Centers and the American Red Cross issued the following statement regarding the National Gay Blood Drive scheduled for July 10.

“The safety of volunteer blood donors and the ultimate recipients of blood is our top priority. The National Gay Blood Drive is one way to raise awareness of the blood donation deferral for men who have had sex with other men (MSM). Blood donation eligibility in the U.S. is determined by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and all blood centers are required to follow the rules and regulations set by the agency.

America’s Blood Centers and the American Red Cross are currently reviewing the draft guidance put forward by the FDA in May 2015 and will respond to the guidance in a timely manner. The recommendation would change the current lifetime deferral of MSM to a 12-month deferral. This change in policy would align the donor deferral period for MSM with criteria for other activities that may pose a similar risk of transfusion-transmissible infections.

It is important to note that this process is just beginning and that the lifetime blood donation deferral for MSM remains in place. All blood centers continue to comply with the current FDA blood donation eligibility criteria until the guidance is finalized.

When released, the final FDA guidance will describe a pathway for previously deferred donors to give blood. Once that is defined, it will take some time for blood centers to update their systems and put those changes into operation.”