South Texas Blood & Tissue (STB&T) is implementing new guidance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for assessing blood donor eligibility using a set of individual risk-based questions to reduce the risk of transfusion-transmitted HIV.
Previous FDA guidelines deferred donors based on sexual orientation. Under the new guidance, all prospective blood donors will be asked the same questions regardless of sexual orientation, sex, or gender. These changes will be effective August 1.
The decision by the federal agency that regulates South Texas Blood & Tissue and all the nation’s blood centers followed close studies of evidence from a system that monitors testing of blood donations, as well outcomes of a similar change in the United Kingdom and Canada, and a recent in-depth look at donor eligibility in the United States.
The evidence supported the concept of basing donor eligibility on individual donor assessment and other existing safeguards, including FDA-mandated testing.
“Along with other blood collection organizations in the country, we support the use of rational, science-based deferral periods,” said Dr. Samantha Ngamsuntikul-Gomez, Medical Director at South Texas Blood & Tissue. “The change will create more equitable donor eligibility standards for prospective blood donors by using gender-inclusive, individual sexual behavior-based questions in pre-donation screening while maintaining the safety of the blood supply.”
The new guidance continues to make the safety of the blood supply a priority while treating all donors with respect. It is based on data showing that the best protection against viruses like HIV is strong testing of blood donations and a uniform screening process for donors.
The new guidance allows blood centers to welcome previously deferred donors and expand donor eligibility nationwide. All U.S. blood centers are regulated by the FDA and must adhere to its donor eligibility policies.
To check your eligibility, contact our Donor Eligibility department at 210-731-5555 ext. 2243, from 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday-Friday.
To schedule a blood donation, visit SouthTexasBlood.org/Give.