Statement from the College of American Pathologists on Supporting Gender-Neutral Blood Donor Screening
The College of American Pathologists (CAP) recognizes that the nation’s blood supply must be both safe and sufficient to meet patient needs and ensure people are healthier through excellence in laboratory medicine , including blood banks run by pathologists. The CAP strives for inclusiveness and diversity in everything our effortsand strongly supports gender-neutral screening of blood donors based on individualized risk assessment for HIV infection instead of sexual identity.
In response to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on blood shortages, in April 2020, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) – the regulatory body that oversees the blood supply and blood centers in the United States – shortened donor deferral periods from 12 months to 3 months. These measures update previous (December 2015) FDA recommendations to reduce the risk of blood-borne infections, including human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which prevented men having sex with men (MSM) to become donors. Despite these updates, the United States still faces a serious national blood shortage crisis, particularly with type O negative and O positive red blood cells.
More inclusive and objective screening of blood donors can increase both the safety and availability of the country’s blood supply.
Blood banks in several European countries and Israel have already implemented gender-neutral screening measures for blood donors, and Health Canada is currently considering a similar recommendation from Canadian Blood Services.
Currently, the FDA and major blood donor organizations are sponsoring the Assessing Donor Variability And New Concepts in Eligibility (ADVANCE) pilot study to evaluate alternatives to its current MSM exclusion policy to examine whether different issues might be used in the donor history questionnaire. Local blood centers are partnering with LGBTQ+ community centers in eight metropolitan cities across the country to help recruit study participants.
Blood donors take great pride in making irreplaceable contributions to the health of their communities. Hood supports participation in the ADVANCE study and the ability of safe and eligible peopleregardless of gender identity, for make vital blood donations needed every day.
Emily E. Volk, MD, FCAP
College of American Pathologists
See Resources for the CAP Review Process and Authors
Resources for the CAP review process
Members of the College of American Pathologists (CAP) Transfusion, Apheresis, and Cellular Therapy (TACT) Committee: Glenn Ramsey, MD, FCAP, chair; Monica Pagano, MD, FCAP, vice president; Joanne Becker, MD, FCAP; Julie Cruz, MD, FCAP; Patricia Kopko, MD, FCAP; and Susan Stramer, Ph.D., MS.