Following federal guidance, Memorial Blood Centers (MBC) is switching Monday to a new donor-screening policy that focuses on individual behaviors rather than sexual orientation.
The change will increase donor opportunities, particularly for men who have sex with other men, at a time when hospitals are reporting low supplies of blood products for surgeries and transfusions.
"We look forward to welcoming these new donors to our centers and blood drives, especially following a tough summer with low donor turnout," said Kathy Geist, Memorial's vice president.
MBC is a major supplier of blood products to Minnesota hospitals along with the American Red Cross, which adopted the new donor policy in August.
Men who have sex with other men have faced more donation restrictions in the past to reduce the risk of spreading HIV, which remains more prevalent in that population. Improved blood-testing techniques made such blanket restrictions excessive.
Donors of any sexual orientation will be deferred under the new policy if they had new or multiple sexual partners in the past three months, and engaged in anal sex, which presents a higher risk of HIV transmission than other sexual activities.