England and Scotland reduce waiting time for gay men to donate blood

The UK government has announced major changes to its rules over who can donate blood.

Under the new procedures gay men  in England and Scotland will only have to abstain from sex for three months, previously they had to wait a full year before being able to donate blood.

Sex workers will also be allowed to give blood under the same guidelines, previously they were not permitted to give blood at all.

The recommendations were accepted after authorities argued that the technology in screening donations for HIV, Hepatitis and other blood-borne infections had significantly improved.

The government authority that sets the guidelines for blood donations has also recommended that more work be put into a process where individual risk assessments were undertaken rather than a blanket rule for all gay men.

The changes will be implemented by the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service (SNBTS) in November and similar changes are expected to be rolled out in England in early 2018.

The decision has been welcomed by LGBTI rights advocates.

Scott Cuthbertson, from LGBTI charity Equality Network, told the BBC that the rule changes were a “significant step forward” and would allow more gay and bisexual men to donate blood.

“We remain concerned, however, that many low risk gay and bisexual men, for example those in monogamous relationships, will still not be allowed to donate under this new policy,” Cutherbertson said.

“Crucially as part of these rule changes SNBTS have committed to explore ways in which a more personalised risk assessment could be introduced.

“I’m pleased to have been asked by SNBTS to be a member of a new sub-group which will look at how an individual risk assessment, rather than a blanket deferment, could be made a reality.”

Currently in Australia gay men and other men who have sex with men must abstain from sexual activity for a full year before being allowed to donate blood. A review of Australia’s blood donation rules is currently underway.

OIP Staff

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