Metro Weekly

GLAAD Launches National Blood Donor Drive

GLAAD is partnering with America's Blood Centers to launch a campaign promoting new blood donor eligibility criteria for gay men.

blood donation, blood, samples,
Blood donations – Photo: Anna Sills

GLAAD is teaming up with America’s Blood Centers to launch a national blood drive campaign called the “Summer of Giving.”

The campaign runs from Tuesday, May 28, through National Blood Donation Day on Wednesday, September 4, in the hopes of encouraging people to donate blood during the summer months. 

The initiative encourages businesses to host blood drives and celebrate the lifting of U.S. Food & Drug Administration eligibility guidelines that allow gay and bisexual men to donate without requiring them to abstain for a set time period before donating — a restriction imposed on few other groups besides sex workers and intravenous drug users.

Previously, for decades, the FDA had categorically banned gay and bisexual men from donating blood based on concerns about the transmission of HIV. In 2015, it changed the policy to allow men who have sex with men to donate following 12 months of abstinence.

That year-long deferral period was subsequently shortened to a three-month deferral from the time of last sexual contact in 2020.

Last year, the categorical deferral period was dropped altogether, with the FDA determining eligibility for all people — regardless of gender or sexual orientation — based on a behavioral risk questionnaire.

The questionnaire asks about past and present drug use, sexual behaviors, and sexual history, including whether individuals have engaged in sex for money.

LGBTQ advocates hailed the change as a significant victory over a policy that many viewed as discriminatory.

The “Summer of Giving” blood drive is designed to educate the public about the fairer, more inclusive donation criteria. That eligibility criteria also helps maintain the safety of the blood supply, as the ability to donate and any needed deferrals are determined by an individual’s behavior rather than identity.

“The ‘Summer of Giving’ is a celebration of the LGBTQ community and decades of work to remove the stigma too many potential donors have endured,” GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said in a statement. “Removing discriminatory barriers and following facts and science will ease the critical national blood shortage.”

The other campaign partner, America’s Blood Centers, is a national organization of community-based, independent blood centers, which provide about 60 percent of the nation’s blood supply.

“America’s Blood Centers is proud to team up with GLAAD to promote the facts about this new change in blood donor eligibility, which prioritizes the safety of the blood supply while bringing more equality to the donation process,” Kate Fry, the organization’s CEO, said in a statement. “Together, we can help save lives during a time of critical need for the blood community.”

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