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April 02, 2020

FDA eases blood-donation rules for gay, bisexual men amid coronavirus shortage

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FDA gay men blood donation restrictions Amornthep Srina/Pexels

The coronavirus is causing a blood shortage in the U.S. and the FDA is changing the restrictions on donations from gay and bisexual men. The FDA's new guidelines allow a man to donate blood if it has been at least three months since he had sex with another man

Restrictions limiting blood donations from gay and bisexual men are changing as blood supplies across the United States dwindle because of the coronavirus outbreak.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued new guidelines Thursday which allow a man to donate blood if it has been at least three months since he had sex with another man. Previously, the FDA recommendation had been 12 months.

The same change was made for women who have had sex with bisexual men. The one-year guideline also was reduced for people who have gotten tattoos and piercings and those who have traveled to malaria-endemic countries. The guidelines for each is three months now.

The American Red Cross has experienced a severe blood shortage since social-distancing and stay-at-home orders were implemented to slow the spread of COVID-19. Since March 17, nearly 2,700 Red Cross blood drives had been canceled across the country, which has resulted in 86,000 fewer blood donations. 

"We expect that the updated guidance and alternative procedures will help increase the number of donations moving forward, while helping to ensure adequate protections for donor health and maintaining a safe blood supply for patients," FDA officials said Thursday.

To donate blood, the Philadelphia Red Cross Donation Center, 700 Spring Garden St., is still open. For information about its hours and to book an appointment, call (800) RED-CROSS (733-2767). You also can set up an appointment using the Red Cross' mobile app for iPhone and Android. 

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