Iceland to End Indefinite Donor Deferral of Gay, Bisexual Men

September 14, 2021

Iceland’s Minister of Health recently submitted a draft amendment to the Regulation on the Collection, Treatment, Preservation and Distribution of Blood that will allow some gay and bisexual men to donate blood.

The proposed regulation would eliminate Iceland’s indefinite deferral of men who have sex with men (MSM) from blood donation. Instead, it proposes a four-month deferral for all donors who have engaged in “risky sex,” defined as “sex that significantly increases the risk of contracting serious blood-borne infectious diseases.”

The regulation also stipulates that blood donors may not be discriminated against on the basis of gender, sexual orientation, origin or other status. The government is currently accepting comments on the proposed regulation, which is scheduled to take effect Jan. 1, 2022.

In the United States, donor eligibility criteria are determined by the Food and Drug Administration and cannot be changed by elected officials. MSM in the U.S. are currently deferred from donation for 3 months following their last sexual contact; however, FDA is evaluating alternatives to this policy through the ADVANCE (Assessing Donor Variability And New Concepts in Eligibility) study.

The study aims to determine whether a different blood donor deferral policy can be used nationwide while maintaining the safety of the blood supply. The ADVANCE study is the first step in assessing the safety of a change to the DHQ. Additional information about the study is available online.