The Irish Blood Transfusion Service (IBTS) has recommended lifting the lifetime ban on gay men donating blood.
The Irish Times today reports that the IBTS has recommended replacing the current lifetime ban with a one-year deferral period. The board recommended that blood be accepted from gay men if they have not had sex with a man in the previous 12 months.
The IBTS made the recommendations to Minister for Health Simon Harris yesterday. The Minister is expected to make a decision on the matter soon.
Earlier this month, Northern Ireland’s Minister for Health, Michelle O’Neill, announced that a lifetime ban on gay men donating blood would be lifted in favour of a one-year deferral period. “My first responsibility in this matter is patient safety. Evidence from across the UK has provided assurance that the risk is lower with a one-year deferral,” said O’Neill. “My decision is based solely on the evidence regarding the safety of donated blood.”
The ban on gay men giving blood was initially applied in 1981 across the UK as a reaction to the rise of Aids. The ban was lifted in rest of the UK in 2011 but Northern Ireland’s then-Minister for Heath, Edwin Poots, opted to keep it in place.
A policy review from the Irish Blood Transfusion Service Board (IBTS) last April initially outlined three potential ‘fixes’ for the blood ban: outright removal of the ban; leaving it in place; or the introduction of a deferral period where gay men could give blood after a fixed period of time.
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