Gay men can now donate blood?

 

Health Ministers announced recently that the rules regarding the eligibility of gay and bisexual men to donate blood have changed. The new policy allows gay and bisexual men to donate blood if they have not had oral or anal sex with a man in the last year. Previously all men who had ever had sex with another man (including men who are gay, bisexual or had a one off sexual encounter with another man) could not donate blood.

The ban on gay men donating blood was originally introduced as a response to the HIV epidemic.. Since that time, changes in testing technologies, as well as changes in equalities legislation, had lead to calls from many gay individuals and organisations, to repeal the ban.

GMFA, the gay men’s health charity, was involved in a review of the policy, conducted by the Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs (SaBTO). Although testing technologies for screening blood for HIV had improved considerably since the initial ban, concerns were raised about the possibility of Hepatitis B being in blood at a level too low to be detected but high enough to result in infection.

However, the giving of blood comes with a requirement that you cannot have had anal or oral sex with another guy for a year before the donation. So, I would suspect that this repeal, despite being backed by many gay groups, is nothing more than a sop to these organisations and will do nothing to add to the blood banks from gay individuals.

More details about the new blood donor policy, and how it relates to gay men, can be found at www.gmfa.org.uk/blood

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