More Gay And Bisexual Men Can Give Blood In Landmark UK Rule Change
More gay and bisexual men will be allowed to give blood in what the government has described as a ‘landmark change’.
All donated blood is tested to make sure it is fit for use, but previous laws meant gay or bisexual men were only allowed to give blood if they abstained from sex with men for three months beforehand – even if they had a steady partner and had their blood tested.
Last year, UNILAD and LADbible launched Blood Without Bias, a campaign that welcomed gay and bisexual men to pledge a pint of blood in order to see how much was going to waste under the government’s ruling.
More than 5,000 pints were pledged, showing there are thousands of willing people out there who were unable to donate blood because of the government’s ruling.
The new law, set to be implemented by summer 2021, will abolish this blanket ban and instead focus on the donor as an individual. The changes mean any men who have had the same sexual partner for more than three months will now be able to donate blood at any time, regardless of the gender of their partner or the type of sex they had.
Potential donors who have had more than one sexual partner, or a new partner, in the last three months can donate as long as they have not had anal sex, as this carries the most risk of a sexually transmitted infection.
The Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs recommended the changes after examining the latest evidence relating to blood donation and sexual behaviour.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock described the move as a ‘positive step’ because it assesses individuals rather than judging based on sexual preference.
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.
The For the Assessment of Individualised Risk (FAIR) steering group, a collaboration of UK blood services and LGBTQ+ charities, conducted extensive research into the risks associated with individualised assessments of blood donors.
It recommended moving away from the blanket ban and instead focusing on the identification of a wider range of ‘high risk behaviours’ which apply to all blood donors, regardless of their sexuality, BBC News reports.
Su Brailsford, associate medical director at NHS Blood and Transport, assured the changes will ensure the UK still has a ‘world-leading’ supply of safe blood.
Patients rely on the generosity and altruism of donors for their life-saving blood. I’m pleased to have concluded that these new changes to donor selection will keep blood just as safe.
In light of the changes, the government claims the UK is one of the first countries in the world to adopt a ‘more individualised risk-based approach’ when it comes to accepting donors.
All donors have the potential to carry infections, including heterosexual men and women, so it was nonsensical to restrict only gay and bisexual men with blood donations.
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