North Carolina’s top health leader reacts to FDA considering change to blood donation policy

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) —  The FDA is considering a change to its blood donation policy, which currently recommends that men who have sex with men be deferred from donating blood for three months after their most recent sexual contact with another man.

The FDA is funding a pilot study, named the ADVANCE Study, that is expected to develop a donor history questionnaire.

That would allow men who have sex with men to be assessed based on their own individual risk for HIV infection, instead of when their last sexual contact happened.

A 1985 ban on all blood donations from men who have sex with men was lifted in 2015, but those planning to donate blood had to abstain from sex for one year.

That requirement was shortened to three months in 2020, as the country saw significant blood shortages during the pandemic.

NCDHHS Secretary Kody Kinsley has been outspoken about the initial policy, hoping for a change.

“With the advancement that we have in testing, we know that we can actually protect the blood supply better, by asking people about their behaviors, as opposed to asking about who they are. My passion is for North Carolina to have all the resources that it needs to stay healthy and well, and that includes a robust blood supply. I also want everyone to be able to donate blood to make a difference in the community, and to be able to save lives and not be excluded for a discriminatory reason,” Kody Kinsley, NCDHHS Secretary.

The FDA has not identified when the updated policy will be announced, but at its blood products advisory committee meeting, materials included a request for revision of MSM Blood Donation Deferment Policy.

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