Coronavirus Facts First

FDA loosens restrictions on gay men, individuals with piercings and tattoos who donate blood


WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWTI) – The U.S. FDA announced on Thursday that it would loosen some of the restrictions that have blocked gay and bisexual men from donating blood in an effort to encourage more blood donations and ensure an adequate blood supply.

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused unprecedented challenges to the U.S. blood supply. Donor centers have experienced a dramatic reduction in donations due to the implementation of social distancing and the cancellation of blood drives.

Maintaining an adequate blood supply is vital to public health. The American Red Cross estimates someone in the U.S. needs blood every two seconds.

The FDA announced that certain donor eligibility criteria can be modified without compromising the safety of the blood supply. 

The agency is changing the recommended deferral period for male donors who have had sex with another man from 12 months to 3 months. The agency also changed the recommended deferral period for those with recent tattoos from 12 months to 3 months.

The FDA said the changes would be implemented immediately and are expected to remain in place after the COVID-19 pandemic ends.

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