• For male donors who have had sex with another man, the recommended deferral period changed from 12 months to 3 months. 
  • For female donors who engaged in sex with a man who had sex with another man, the deferral period changed from 12 months to 3 months. 
  • For those with recent tattoos and piercings, the deferral period changed from 12 months to three months. 
  • For those who have traveled to malaria-endemic areas or are residents of malaria non-endemic areas the recommended deferral period changed from 12 months to three months. The guidance also permits an alternate procedure that allows for collection of blood from such donors without a deferral period, provided the blood components are pathogen-reduced using an FDA-approved pathogen reduction device.
  • For those who spent time in certain European countries or on military bases in Europe and were previously considered to have been exposed to a potential risk of transmission of Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease or Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, the agency is eliminating the recommended deferrals.

"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," the FDA said in its announcement. 

The FDA said maintaining an adequate blood supply is important to public health, as American Red Cross estimates that every two seconds, someone in the United States needs blood. 

"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 said in its announcement. 

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James Kershaw donates blood at a temporary blood bank set up in a church's fellowship hall Tuesday, March 24, 2020, in Tempe, Ariz. Schools and businesses that typically host blood drives are temporarily closed due to precautionary measures in place to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus leading to extremely low levels of blood availability throughout the state. (Photo: Matt York, AP)

Stanton urged Trump administration to lift ban on gay, bisexual men to donate blood

U.S Rep. Greg Stanton sent a letter to the Trump administration on March 19 urging it to lift the ban on gay and bisexual men and allow "all healthy Americans to donate blood."

The letter said the need for blood is "critical and will only become greater." He said Arizona Vitalant, which supplies blood for all hospitals in Maricopa County and a majority of the ones in the state, saw a 20% drop in blood donations overnight. 

"Due to great medical improvements on HIV detection, a population-based exclusion no longer makes scientific sense," Stanton said in his letter. 

In response to the FDA's announcement Thursday, Stanton said in an email, “Today’s announcement is a step forward, but frankly isn’t enough. Our country faces unprecedented challenges with our national blood supply, and there is zero scientific evidence that supports these restrictions. I continue to ask the Vice President to fully lift the ban on gay and bisexual men so that any healthy American is able to donate blood.”