Blood donation guidelines changed by FDA due to shortages during coronavirus pandemic

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The FDA has put in place guidelines to reduce the risk of HIV transmission through the blood and shortens the recommended deferral period for certain groups: for male donors who have had sex with another man, female donors who have been postponed for having sex with a man who has had sex with another man and for those who have recently received tattoos or piercings, the recommended deferral period for blood donation changes from 12 months to three months.

US Surgeon General Jerome Adams said in a press briefing after the new guidelines were released that people with HIV still cannot donate blood.

But those who take pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, to prevent HIV infection can still donate if they don’t use the drug to treat HIV infection, said Dr. Peter Marks, director from the FDA of the Center for Biologics and Evaluation Research, who participated in the briefing.

That they need to stop using the drug and for how long they stay at the donation center, he said.

“Individual donor centers will have policies that may require someone to stop taking these drugs for a period of time, but this is something that is generally left to the discretion of donor centers,” said Marks.

The FDA is also modifying its blood donation guidelines for people who have traveled to countries where malaria is endemic – the recommended deferral period has been reduced from 12 months to 3 months.

And for people who have spent time in European countries or military bases where there is a risk of transmission of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease or a variant of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, the agency eliminates the recommended carryovers .

Increase blood donation

FDA said there was an “urgent” need for blood, blood products and plasma, and waived the standard public comment period by releasing the new guidelines, but blood donation centers are not required to apply these changes.

“We expect the updated guidelines and alternative procedures to help increase the number of donations in the future, while helping to ensure adequate protections for donor health and to maintain a safe blood supply for the patients, “according to a statement released by Marks before the press conference. .

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“The people who donate blood are part of our critical infrastructure industries. More donations are needed right now and we hope that people will continue to take the time to donate blood, “he said.

Mark later pointed out in the presentation that coronavirus is a respiratory disease and, like the flu, is not usually transmitted by blood.

“The concern is not to transmit the virus by transfusion. The concern is with other donors at the donor center. “

American Red Cross security practices

“Social distancing does not mean social disengagement,” said Adams on Thursday, addressing the issue during the briefing. “Maintaining our nation’s blood supply is still essential, but especially now that donations are dropping dramatically. “

The American Red Cross assures donors that it is safe to donate blood at local centers during the pandemic and that it is just as crucial to community health as going to the grocery store or pharmacy.

“We must all practice social distancing, but it is important to know that blood drives are not considered to be” mass gatherings “as these are controlled events with trained personnel and appropriate security measures to protect donors and recipients, “the agency said on its website.

The agency said each Red Cross donation center has taken steps to ensure donor safety and infection control practices, including staff and donor temperature checks, hand disinfection before and during the blood donation process, social distancing between donors and regular disinfection of surfaces. and equipment.

Amanda Watts of CNN contributed to this report.

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