Study could end blood donor restrictions on gay and bisexual men

A new study funded by the Food and Drug Administration is seeking to develop donor screening questions to determine risk of transmission of blood-borne diseases, in the hope of eventually eliminating the three-month deferral period for men who have sex with men. The ADVANCE Study, as it is known, involves three of the nation’s largest blood centers: Vitalant, OneBlood, and the American Red Cross. All three centers will determine risk factors of individual participants and take blood samples to determine if the screening questions successfully weed out those at risk of transmissible diseases like HIV or hepatitis. To recruit participants for the study, the blood centers are currently working with LGBTQ centers and local health clinics in San Francisco, Orlando, and Washington, D.C., and have plans to expand to sites in Miami, Memphis, Los Angeles, Atlanta, and a New Orleans/Baton Rouge joint site. Eligible participants need to be gay or bisexual men, between the ages of 18 and 30, who are interested in donating blood and have had sex with at least one other man in the three months prior to the study, and who live in one of the eight communities where the study is being performed.