New blood donation rules for gay and bisexual men have today come into effect in Scotland and Wales, and will come into effect in England tomorrow, meaning more gay and bisexual men will be eligible to give blood.
Gay and bisexual men in Britain will be able to donate blood from three months after having sex with another man. The new rules replace a twelve-month deferment period which has been in place since the lifetime ban was lifted in 2011.
Scottish LGBTI equality charity, the Equality Network, has welcomed the new blood donation rules which they say will reduce, but not eliminate, the discrimination faced by gay and bisexual men.
Scott Cuthbertson, Development Manager, said:
“We welcome that more gay and bisexual men will be eligible to donate blood from today.
“We hope many gay and bisexual men who are now able to donate, do so with their peers. These new rules are a welcome and significant step forward, we remain concerned, however, that for too many low risk gay and bisexual men these new rules are, in effect, a continued ban.”
He continued, “The blood service has committed to explore ways in which a more personalised risk assessment could be introduced. We look forward to continuing to work with both the blood service and the Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs (SaBTO) to eliminate all unwarranted discrimination from the UKs blood donation rules.”
The blood donation rules were changed after the UK, Scottish and Welsh Governments instructed their respective blood services to implement the recommendations of a recent review of blood donor criteria and risk assessment by the Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs (SaBTO), which advises health ministers and departments for health across the UK. Northern Ireland has only recently removed the lifetime ban on MSM blood donations, but with the Stormont Assembly suspended is unlikely to implement the new rule changes any time soon.
The rule change also affects people who have sex with partners who are classed as high risk.