CBC adopts new donor risk assessment guidelines


DAYTON — Community Blood Center is welcoming new individual risk assessment questions for determining blood donor eligibility recommended by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and is in the process of implementing the changes.

The new guidelines ease decades-old restrictions that made it challenging for gay and bisexual men to donate blood.

The FDA has finalized a recommended set of questions for use in the blood donor screening process to reduce the risk of transfusion-transmitted HIV. These questions will be the same for every donor, regardless of gender or sexual orientation. CBC and blood centers across the nation are now working toward implementation of these recommendations by revising their donor history questionnaires and procedures.

“We welcome this change and are optimistic it will mean more donors joining our mission and safely providing the blood so essential to saving the lives of hospital patients across our region,” said CBC Vice President of Donor Services Tracy Morgan.

Morgan said the suggested timeline for implementation will be in September. In the meantime, the current policy that requires gay and bisexual men to wait three months following their last sexual contact with another man to donate blood will remain in place.

“In addition to relevant changes to the donor questionnaire, there will also be multiple systems and procedural updates and staff training,” said Morgan. “We will need time to focus on training. The FDA and AABB are developing training resources that should be available at the end of June or early July.”

CBC agrees that an individual risk assessment of all donors will maintain the safety of the blood supply, make blood donation more inclusive, ensure all donors are treated equally, and enable more people the opportunity to donate blood.

The safety of the blood supply is CBC’s top priority. All blood donations are required to undergo more than a dozen tests to ensure donations are safe for patients, including HIV, Hepatitis B and C, West Nile, and other infectious diseases.

Implementing an individual risk assessment of all blood donors means eliminating restrictions that make it challenging for gay and bisexual men to donate blood.

The change in donor eligibility is centered around the FDA’s policy known as Men Who Have Sex with Men (MSM).

MSM policy was established in the 1980’s during the height of the AIDS epidemic. Men who had sex with men were banned from donating blood when those restrictions were put in place. The lifetime ban remained for more than two decades.

In 2015 the FDA updated the policy to specify a one-year deferral period. This meant any man who had sex with another man would have to wait one year following their last sexual contact with another man before they could donate blood.

In 2020, the FDA implemented the three-month deferral period, requiring men who have sex with men to wait three months following their last sexual contact with another man before they can donate blood.

The new FDA policy will eliminate the time-based restriction of three months and instead screen all potential donors equally, using a series of questions that will assess their individual risk of HIV, regardless of gender or sexual orientation.

Blood donation requirements: Donors are required to provide a photo ID that includes their full name. Past CBC donors are also asked to bring their CBC donor ID card. Donors must be at least 17 years of age (16 years old with parental consent: form available at www.givingblood.org or at the Dayton CBC and mobile blood drive locations), weigh a minimum of 110 pounds (you may have to weigh more depending on your height), and be in good physical health. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) changes blood donor eligibility guidelines periodically. Individuals with eligibility questions can email [email protected] or call (937) 461-3220. Make an appointment at www.DonorTime.com.

Community Blood Center/Community Tissue Services® is an independent, not-for-profit organization. Community Blood Center provides blood products to partner hospitals and health centers within its 18-county service area of western Ohio and eastern Indiana and to select hospitals and blood centers outside the region. For more information visit www.givingblood.org.

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