The one year abstinence period for blood donations by gay and bisexual men in Northern Ireland will be reduced to three months on June 1.
The department of health has gay and bisexual men in Northern Ireland will soon be able to donate blood three months after their last sexual activity.
The reduces the wait time by 9 months, the previous policy was that blood donation was only allowed one year after their last sexual activity.
This amendment will come into effect from June 1 and brings Northern Ireland in line with the rest of the UK, which has operated a three-month limit since 2017.
The minister for health said his decision was based on “evidence regarding the safety of donated blood”.
Robin Swann said: “Anyone of us may require a blood transfusion in the future and we need to be confident that the blood we receive is safe.”
Every blood donation was tested for HIV and several other organisms said the minister for health.
Not even the most advanced tests are 100% reliable, so it is vitally important for every donor to comply with any deferral rules that apply to them,” he added.
The NI Blood Transfusion Service welcomed the changes to the criteria for blood donations in Northern Ireland, saying: “The safety of our donors and staff, as always, is our utmost priority”.
They added that donors should keep in mind public health guidelines set out for coronavirus such as not attending an appointment if they or a member of their household are feeling unwell.
In January 2017, the Irish Blood Transfusion Service lifted the lifelong blood donation ban on GBT+ people. It was replaced with the implementation of a one-year deferral period.
Northern Ireland will join the rest of UK by changing the abstinence rule for gay men donating blood to 3 months based on "evidence regarding safety".
— Adam Shanley (@Adlers1) April 29, 2020
In the Republic, sexual health advocates continue to work with the Irish Blood Transfusion Service on reviewing te one year abstinence rule.
Speaking to the Irish Examiner, LGBT+ rights officer of Trinity College’s students’ union, Thomas O’Neill, called the current law discriminatory. He said, “I think we should reduce it to an individual risk assessment because someone could engage in a sexual act before they are able to give blood within the 12 month period but they could be completely healthy.”
“The main reason they had the first complete ban was because of the HIV/AIDS crisis.” O’Neil further stated, “It’s a virus so it doesn’t attack someone specifically because of who they are, it just goes for whoever it can.”
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