Donating blood is one of the most precious gifts that we can give to anyone, and blood donations allow healthcare professionals to save many lives everyday. If you’ve ever been diagnosed with an STD, you may have wondered whether that means that you can’t donate blood again. In reality, the answer depends on many different factors.
So if you’ve ever wondered if a person with genital herpes can donate blood, just keep reading to learn the answer to this question and more.
Can someone with STDs donate blood?
The answer is: it depends. Not all STDs are the same, and the guidelines for donating blood if you have an STD will vary depending on the exact STD.
There are certain lifelong restrictions that could mean that you can’t donate blood, such as:
- Have HIV/AIDS
- Have human T-lymphotropic virus (HTLV), which is a virus that has been shown to cause a type of leukemia called adult T-cell leukemia/lymphoma (ATL)
- Have hepatitis B or C
Can I donate blood if I had hepatitis?
Unfortunately, you can’t donate blood or plasma if you’ve had hepatitis C or B, since these viruses can lead to chronic infection that can cause severe health complications. According to Blood Donor Counselling: Implementation Guidelines, any current partner of someone with hepatitis B or C can’t donate either, unless it has been more than 3 months since the partner with hepatitis cleared the infection.
Having hepatitis E also rules you out as a potential blood donor, since all patients with hepatitis E must have been previously infected with hepatitis B.
People who have had hepatitis A, E, or other types of non-viral hepatitis can donate blood as long as they have fully recovered from the disease at the time of the donation.
Can I donate blood if I have chlamydia?
According to the American Red Cross, you can donate blood if you have chlamydia, as long as you feel healthy and meet the rest of the eligibility criteria. However, you should keep in mind that this recommendation could be different depending on your location — you should check with your local blood donation center to confirm whether you can donate blood if you have chlamydia.
Can I donate blood if I have syphilis or gonorrhea?
You’ll need to wait at least 3 months after finishing your syphilis or gonorrhea treatment in order to donate blood.
Blood donation and herpes
In most cases, there are few restrictions for a person with oral or genital herpes to donate blood. However, there are certain things you’ll need to keep in mind, including:
- You shouldn’t donate blood during your first herpes outbreak, since there’s a small risk that herpes is in your bloodstream and could infect the donated blood
- You’ll need to wait at least 48 hours after finishing any antiviral treatments you’re on
- You should wait until all your sores or lesions are healed before donating blood
A person with herpes can donate plasma or blood as long as these conditions are met — after all, herpes affects millions of people around the world, and it wouldn’t make sense to prohibit them from donating blood for life. There’s a small, theoretical risk that herpes could be transmitted by a blood transfusion, but in reality, the virus is passed on through skin-to-skin contact.
The same rules apply for other donation procedures. You can donate organs or become an egg donor if you have herpes, too.
Blood donation and HPV
Whether you can donate blood if you have HPV will depend on certain factors. According to the Joint United Kingdom (UK) Blood Transfusion and Tissue Transplantation Services Professional Advisory Committee, people with HPV can’t donate blood if they have any unhealed areas after treatment.
However, HPV isn’t considered to be a cause for deferral if the person feels health and meets other eligibility criteria.
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Do they test for STDs when donating blood?
Yes. According to the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, donated blood will be screened for different infections, including:
- Different types of hepatitis
- HTLV (human T-lymphotropic virus)
If your blood tests positive for any of these conditions, it won’t be given to anyone else. The donating center will also contact you to let you know about the positive result — if the results are negative, centers will typically not contact you. You can get tested for many other STDs using at-home STD testing before donating.
For a long time, men who have sex with men haven’t been allowed to donate blood in many places, and it’s still recommended that men who have had sex with men in the last 3 months abstain from donating blood. This rule was implemented during the height of the HIV crisis, but it’s very possible that this criteria will change in the near future.
According to the American Red Cross, research is being conducted in different blood donation centers in order to determine potential changes to donor eligibility criteria. In the future, each donor would be assessed based on personal risk.
You can learn more about STDs and other topics on reproductive health at STDWatch.com.
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Blood Donor Counselling: Implementation Guidelines - ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
Frequently Asked Questions - redcrossblood.org
Warts - transfusionguidelines.org
After You’ve Donated Blood - mskcc.org
Nation’s Biggest Blood Centers Conduct New Research in Eight U.S. Cities, Including Atlanta, That Could Help Lead to Changes in Donor Eligibility for Men Who Have Sex with Men - redcross.org