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Gay and bisexual men will now be able to give blood from next summer after ‘landmark change’

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Yesterday NHS Blood and Transplant announced that gay and bisexual men who have been in a long-term monogamous relationship for more than three months will be eligible to give blood from next summer across the UK under the ‘landmark’ ruling.

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The announcement

This groundbreaking statement was made yesterday by Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock who spoke with inews about the new rules calling it a “landmark change”.

“This landmark change to blood donation is safe and it will allow many more people, who have previously been excluded by donor selection criteria, to take the opportunity to help save lives.

“This is a positive step and recognises individuals for the actions they take rather than their sexual preference.”

– Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock speaking with inews
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What was the “landmark change”?

Gay men were once banned from donating blood for life until 2011 when this was reduced to a one-year abstinence requirement. In 2017, the one-year abstinence was cut to three months.

The change comes following recommendations from the Advisory Committee for the Safety of Blood Tissues and Organs (SaBTO) and a report published Monday. Now under new legislation gay or bisexual people who are in a long-term relationship for more than three months will now be eligible to donate.

These changes will be implemented in summer of 2021. This will mean that donors who have had one sexual partner and who have been with that sexual partner for more than three months will be eligible to donate, regardless of their gender, the gender of their partner or the type of sex they have. 

In simpler terms our understanding is no anal sex with a new partner for three months regardless of gender.

This new policy applies across all of the home nations and makes the UK one of the first in the world to introduce an assessment of individualised risk.

NHS Blood and Transplant said:

“Donors will no longer be asked to declare if they have had sex with another man, making the criteria for blood donation gender-neutral and more inclusive. “A set of other deferrals will also be introduced… such as if a person recently had chemsex.”

– A statement from NHS Blood and Transplant
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The new FAIR recommendations (For the Assessment of Individualised Risk)

Highlights of the recommendations include (read more):

  • Donors who have had anal sex with a new partner or multiple partners in the last three months will be deferred, regardless of their gender or their partner’s gender
  • All people who have had oral-only sex can donate and will not be deferred
  • All donors will now be asked if they have had sex before
  • Donors who have had new or multiple partners recently will be asked if they’ve had anal sex in the last three months regardless of condom use
  • The current deferral for PrEP* will remain in place, pending the outcome of national PrEP guidelines review
  • Syphilis screening will remain

Ethan Spibey, the founder of FreedomToDonate, has been campaigning for these changes for more than six years.

The group is said to “warmly welcome” this announcement.

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Feature image Photo by John Benitez on Unsplash


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