The UK has pledged to review the current restrictions on men who have sex with men giving blood.
Public health minister Jane Ellison has confirmed that the government will review of the rules prohibiting gay and bisexual men from donating blood.
Since 2011, MSM (men who have sex with men) are subject to a deferral period of one year before they are eligible to give blood. Prior to this change, MSM were prohibited from giving blood.
“Donor deferral for men who have sex with men was changed from lifetime to 12 months in 2011,” said Ellison, “But four years later it is time to look again at the question. Public Health England has just undertaken an anonymous survey of donors and I am pleased that the Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs [Sabto] will review the issue in 2016.”
She added, “It is important to put it on the record that the blood service does not discriminate on sexual orientation. Lesbians are free to give blood and their blood donations are extremely appreciated. The deferral period is based on sexual activity, and it applies to a number of other groups other than just men who have sex with men.”
LGBT activists in the UK have welcomed the news, saying that the current system is unfair.
A spokesperson from Stonewall UK said, “These current rules are clearly unfair and we want to see people asked similar questions, irrespective of their sexual orientation, to accurately assess the risk of infection. Screening all donors by sexual behaviour rather than by sexual orientation would increase blood stocks in times of shortage and create a safer supply by giving a more accurate, non-discriminatory assessment.”
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