Merck Manual

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Some Conditions That Disqualify People From Donating Blood

Some Conditions That Disqualify People From Donating Blood


Permanent or Temporary Disqualification


Participation in certain high-risk activities


This includes any positive test for HIV, ever.

High-risk activities include

  • Use of intravenous drugs (ever).

  • Engagement in sex for compensation (ever).

Activities that increase risk of HIV infection


The FDA has changed recommendations for certain other high-risk activities from permanent to temporary (for up to 12 months) disqualification from last such activity. Activities include

  • Men who have sex with men (MSM) and women who have sex with MSM.

  • Sexual contact with a person who has ever had a positive HIV test, ever engaged in sex for compensation, or ever used IV drugs.

Anemia (a low level of hemoglobin in the blood)


People can donate blood after the anemia resolves.

Asthma, severe


Bleeding disorders, congenital


Cancers involving blood cells (for example, leukemia, lymphoma, or myeloma)


People cannot donate even if they are cancer-free.

Cancers, other


People may donate if they are cancer-free and treatment was completed more than 12 months previously.

People with mild, treatable forms (such as small skin cancers) may be able to donate before 12 months.

Drugs (some), such as acitretin, dutasteride, etretinate, finasteride, and isotretinoin


How long people have to wait depends on the drug.

Most drugs do not disqualify people from donating blood.

Heart disease, severe


Hepatitis, illness


People who have ever had hepatitis due to a virus cannot donate blood.

Hepatitis, exposure to


People must wait 12 months after possible exposure (for example, living with or having sex with a person with hepatitis, being incarcerated in a correctional facility for more than 72 hours, or having a human bite that broke the skin).


People can donate after their blood pressure is controlled.

Possible exposure to prion diseases, such as variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (also called mad cow disease)


Exposure may occur when

  • People have used insulin derived from cows.

  • People have spent time in Europe since 1980 (ranging from more than 3 months to 5 years, depending on the country)

  • U.S. military personnel who lived on bases in Europe for more than 6 months during 1980–1996.

Malaria or exposure to malaria


People must wait 1–3 years.



Women must wait 6 weeks after giving birth.

Major surgery if recent




People must wait 12 months.


Temporary or permanent

People who received a transfusion in the United States must wait 12 months.

People who received a transfusion in the United Kingdom since 1980.

Vaccines (some)


How long people have to wait depends on the vaccine.


For recent Zika virus infection, the U.S. FDA recommends a 120-day deferral from resolution of symptoms or the last positive test, whichever is longer.

The FDA no longer recommends screening donor for risk factors; instead, all donor blood is to be tested for the Zika virus.

FDA = Food and Drug Administration; HIV = human immunodeficiency virus.