LifeServe Blood Center is changing its donor eligibility policy next month to comply with new FDA guidelines on blood donations from gay and bisexual men.
The FDA revised its policy last December from a complete ban to accepting donations from men who haven’t had sex with men in the past 12 months. Christine Hayes, with Des Moines-based LifeServe, says they will implement the new guidelines in early July and, despite the delay, they are happy with the change.
“We certainly are thankful that the FDA has changed their criteria and made it more science-based,” Hayes says. “We do know that unfortunately it takes a while for those processes to get completely accomplished with the federal government.” LifeServe supplies blood to about 120 hospitals in Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota. Hayes says there’s been a delay in implementing the new policy because blood centers must work with the FDA to update internal operations.
“Those questions that the FDA requires us to ask the donor were not completely finalized by the FDA until the end of May, so now we’re implementing those internal changes with the questionnaire,” she says. “Those then need to be approved the FDA for every individual blood center.” Hayes says LifeServe expects the new questionnaire to be approved by the FDA soon. She believes most blood centers across the United States are on a similar timeline.
Gay rights activists and some in the scientific community criticized the FDA’s old policy against donations by gay men. Some feel the new policy is still too restrictive. They say the 12-month wait period is unnecessarily long because in most cases, HIV can be detected in 1-3 months.
(Thanks to Michael Leland, Iowa Public Radio)