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Red Cross, AABB and America’s Blood Center’s respond to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) recommendation to change blood donation deferral criteria for men who have had sex with other men (MSM)

"AABB, America’s Blood Centers and the American Red Cross believe all potential blood donors should be treated with fairness, equality and respect, and that accurate donor histories and scientifically supported donor deferral criteria are critical to the continued safety of blood transfusion.

The FDA’s decision to take steps to recommend a change in the blood donation deferral for men who have had sex with men (MSM) from a lifetime deferral to a one-year deferral is consistent with the position of our organizations that the current lifetime deferral is unwarranted.

It is important to note that this process is just beginning and that the lifetime blood donation deferral for MSM is currently still in place. Blood centers comply with all FDA blood donation eligibility criteria. The process to change this will take time. We will review the draft guidance that is scheduled to issue in 2015, and will implement the guidance as soon as possible after it is finalized.

The top priority of AABB, America’s Blood Centers and the American Red Cross is the safety of the ultimate recipients of blood and our volunteer blood donors. Our organizations strongly support the use of rational, scientifically-based deferral periods that are applied fairly and consistently among blood donors who engage in similar risk activities. We also support the advisory committee's recommendations for sustainable monitoring of changes in blood safety following implementation of a new deferral policy."

About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.