WASHINGTON, DC, November 21, 2019 — The American Red Cross issued the following statement regarding the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s guidance “Revised Recommendations for Reducing the Risk of Human Immunodeficiency Virus Transmission by Blood and Blood Products” which outlines the deferral criteria for men who have had sex with men (MSM):
“The American Red Cross seeks to build an inclusive environment that embraces diversity for all those who engage with our lifesaving mission. As such the Red Cross believes blood donation eligibility should not be determined by methods that are based upon sexual orientation. We are committed to working toward achieving this goal.
As a scientifically-based interim step, the Red Cross encourages the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to consider reducing its deferral time for men who have sex with men from twelve to three months while further options are evaluated for the United States. This is consistent with policy changes made by several other countries including Canada and Great Britain. We also strongly support the expanded use of new technologies to work toward elimination of donor eligibility questions that would no longer be necessary.
We remain steadfast in our commitment to ensure that every blood recipient receives safe, lifesaving blood when needed. While the Red Cross is regulated by the FDA and cannot unilaterally enact changes in the MSM deferral policy, we continue to work with other U.S. blood collection organizations to gather and provide data to the FDA for additional research and evaluation.
We ask advocates and stakeholders to join us in this important dialogue around the existing deferral policy and pathways toward achieving our goal, while recognizing the need to always maintain patient safety. Together, we will work toward an inclusive and equitable blood donation process that treats all potential donors with equality and respect, and ensures a safe, sufficient blood supply is readily available for patients in need.”