The American Red Cross announced Monday that more gay and bisexual men will be able to donate blood after the Food and Drug Administration enacted more lenient guidelines.
In May, the FDA finalized new rules eliminating sweeping bans on blood donations from gay and bisexual men that went back to 1985 over concerns about transmitting HIV to recipients through blood transfusions.
The new guidelines instead focus on individual risk behaviors, rather than sexual orientation. The new rules place restrictions against blood donations from anyone—regardless of sexual orientation—who’s had multiple sexual partners or engaged in anal sex in the previous three months.
People who are currently taking medication to treat or prevent HIV infection will also be deferred from donating blood under the new FDA policy.
“The Red Cross is committed to achieving an inclusive blood donation process that treats all potential donors with equality and respect, and ensures a safe, sufficient blood supply is readily available for patients in need,” the organization said in a statement. “This historic change in approach to donor eligibility is significant progress, resulting in a blood donation process that is more inclusive than ever before. The Red Cross celebrates the FDA’s elimination of blood donation policies based on sexual orientation.”
There are currently fewer than 11 million blood donors while there are more than 14 million units of blood transfused in the U.S. annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).