Parts of UK to lift lifetime ban on gay men donating blood
September 8th, 2011
12:01 PM ET

Parts of UK to lift lifetime ban on gay men donating blood

Gay men who have not had sex with another man in 12 months will be allowed to donate blood in parts of the UK for the first time since a ban was put in place in the 1980s in response to the spread of AIDS and HIV, the UK Department of Health announced Thursday.

Blood banks in England, Scotland and Wales have said they will allow gay men to begin giving blood if they qualify under new rules beginning on November 7. Northern Ireland is expected to announce a decision on whether they too will lift the ban soon. (The UK is made up of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.)

"Currently, men who have ever had oral or anal sex with another man, even if a condom was used, are permanently excluded from blood donation in the UK," UK National Health Services Blood and Transport said on their website. "The change means that in future only men who have had anal or oral sex with another man in the past 12 months, with or without a condom, will be asked not to donate blood. Men whose last sexual contact with another man was more than 12 months ago will be able to donate, subject to meeting the other donor selection criteria."

The decision follows a review of the ban by the Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs (SaBTO) who studied the latest details on relevant sexual contact in relation to the safety of donating blood and completed a full review of review of overall blood donor selection criteria that is related to sexual behavior. The committee looked at the risk of infection being transmitted in blood as well as improvements in testing donated blood for diseases before reaching their conclusion to change the guidelines.

The UK Department of Health said the review found "evidence no longer supported the permanent exclusion of men who have had sex with men.

"With that change, the criteria for gay men falls in line with other specific groups that are 'deferred' from giving blood for 12 months since the time of a sexual encounter that is considered to carry heightened infection risks. That group includes whose who have had sex with anyone who has injected themselves with drugs, those who have slept with a prostitute or those who have slept with a man who has slept with another man," NHS Blood and Transport said.

“NHS Blood and Transplant’s priority as a blood service is to provide a safe and sufficient supply of blood for patients," Dr. Lorna Williamson, the  Medical and Research Direct of NHS Blood and Transplant said in a statement. "We welcome this review and its conclusions.  It gives us an opportunity to broaden our donor acceptance on the basis of the latest scientific evidence. “It is essential that our donor selection rules are based on good evidence to maintain their credibility with donors, and this change gives us an updated policy that is proportionate to the current risk.

‚ÄúThe SaBTO review concluded that the safety of the blood supply would not be affected by the change and we would like to reassure patients receiving transfusions that the blood supply is as safe as it reasonably can be and amongst the safest in the world. There has been no documented transmission of a blood-borne virus in the UK since 2005, with no HIV transmission since 2002.‚ÄĚ

NHS Blood and Transplant said on their website that they know there is frustration that people are treated as groups when it comes to blood donation, but that it is necessary for safety to treat groups that may have larger risks of infections in blood with special care.

"The Blood Services are therefore required to follow deferral rules that estimate the statistical risk of certain groups based on behavior," they said. "We are sorry for any inadvertent offense this may cause."

The move comes as global perspectives are beginning to change and countries are re-examining their rules for blood donation. England, Scotland and Wales will join Australia Sweden and Japan in requiring a one-year gap between sexual intercourse between two men before they are eligible to give blood. South African has introduced a six-month gap between sexual intercourse between two males and their donation of blood. The United States examined lifting the lifetime ban on gay men donating blood in 2010 but the ban was upheld by a federal committee.

soundoff (273 Responses)
  1. ANDREW

    Preventing and Controlling Hemorrhage Without Blood Transfusion
    2. Techniques and Devices to Locate and Arrest Internal Bleeding:
    a. Endoscopy to identify location of internal bleeding
    b. Flexible suction coagulator electrode (Papp, J. P., JAMA, November 1, 1976, pages 2076-9)
    c. Arterial embolization (JAMA, November 18, 1974, pages 952-3)
    d. Controlled hypotension (until bleeding can be stopped)
    e. Tissue adhesives (Dr. S. E. Silvas, MWN, September 5, 1977)

    September 8, 2011 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • medicalstudent

      blood transfusion isn't used to prevent hemorrhage...it's used to replace blood that is lost

      also many diseases REQUIRE a blood transfusion to replace elements the individual doesn't make. For instance hemophilia A/B require blood transfusions to replace certain clotting factors. Others don't form red blood cells properly and need transfusions to get enough oxygen.

      Stop spreading misinformation you look incredibly foolish.

      September 8, 2011 at 8:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bosko

      .f Wriggley's Spearimint gum - thoroughly chewed and stuck in the offending leak.

      September 9, 2011 at 12:24 am | Report abuse |
  2. sortakinda

    I suppose you'd have to believe every gay person who was asked if he were gay would say, "Of course," and therefore be denied the opportunity to donate blood. But isn't this how Arthur Ashe died?

    September 8, 2011 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      It is. From a blood transfusion received in the early 80s around the time when no one knew what HIV was. I highly doubt the blood was tested for HIV or too many other blood-born diseases, which caused Ashe to work to promote improvements in health care delivery.

      Also, just a small reminder for everyone: Gays aren't the only ones that contract HIV. I hope to the god I don't believe in that our blood banks regularly test for diseases on all samples instead of just relying on whether or not the donor checked yes or no for the gay question.

      September 8, 2011 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
  3. ANDREW

    Preventing and Controlling Hemorrhage Without Blood Transfusion
    4. Monitoring Devices:
    a. Transcutaneous oxygen monitor
    b. Oximeter

    September 8, 2011 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
  4. ANDREW

    Preventing and Controlling Hemorrhage Without Blood Transfusion
    5. Volume Expanders:
    a. Crystalloids
    (1) Ringer’s lactate (Eichner, E. R., Surgery Annual, January 1982, pages 85-99)
    (2) Normal saline
    b. Colloids
    (1) Dextran
    (2) Gelatin (Howell, P. J., Anaesthesia, January 1987, pages 44-8)
    (3) Hetastarch

    September 8, 2011 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
  5. ANDREW

    Preventing and Controlling Hemorrhage Without Blood Transfusion
    6. Chemical Hemostats:
    a. Avitene
    b. Gelfoam
    c. Oxycel
    d. Surgicel
    e. Many others

    September 8, 2011 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Alex

    No thanks. All the more reason to have your own blood reserve.

    September 8, 2011 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
  7. ANDREW

    8. External Measures:
    a. For bleeding:
    (1) Applied direct pressure
    (2) Ice packs
    (3) Positioning of body (e.g., raising injured limb to slow bleeding)
    b. For shock:
    (1) Apply pressure cuffs to legs
    (2) Antishock trousers
    (3) Raising both legs to maintain blood pressure

    September 8, 2011 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
  8. ANDREW

    9. Drugs for Patients With Blood Problems:
    a. DDAVP, desmopressin (Kobrinsky, N. L., Lancet, May 26, 1984, pages 1145-8)
    b. E-aminocaproic acid (Schwartz, S. I., Contemporary Surgery, May 1977, pages 37-40)
    c. Vitamin K
    d. Bioflavonoids (Physician’s Desk Reference)
    e. Carbazochrome salicylate
    f. Tranexamic acid (Transfusion Medicine Topic Update, May 1989)
    g. Danazol

    September 8, 2011 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
  9. ANDREW

    10. Other Points:
    a. A moderate fall in blood pressure to about 90-100 mm of Hg may help bleeding to stop by natural clotting in a cut artery
    b. Rule of minimum 10g hemoglobin for surgery has no valid scientific support
    c. Surgical patients have survived with hemoglobin as low as 1.8 (Anaesthesia, 1987, Volume 42, pages 44-8)
    d. Lower hemoglobin results in lower blood viscosity, in turn reducing the load on the heart and improving tissue perfusion and oxygenation

    September 8, 2011 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sean

      Shut up! you are not a Dr and have no idea what any of your post even mean. Seriously man shut up!

      September 8, 2011 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Tom

    This is a perfect textbook example of where political correctness gets people potentially sick. This is why I don't like the left, or their leftist ideology. This is how ideology can be dangerous on a mass scale.

    September 8, 2011 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Matt

      Yeah, because science and fact are just leftist lies. Dummy – they still test all blood for HIV. They just aren't excluding a single group.

      September 8, 2011 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Sirolism

    Like it or not, there's a damned good reason for the ban on blood donations from gay men. And, that's the 1/5 HIV rate among gay men; half of whom are *unaware* that they're HIV-infected. I'd hope they ban donations from IV drug users as well!

    September 8, 2011 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Charlie

      They do ... it's part of the questionnaire they give you before they put the needle in. They also test every pint of blood donated.

      Learn the facts before you comment (unless you were trolling & trying to be funny) ...

      September 8, 2011 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jason

      Citation please for your "1 out of 5" comment? Because, frankly, that's just BS you made up.

      September 8, 2011 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
  12. xjdavid

    "Positive results from this lifestyle" being entirely subjective, please tell me what proof you have that gay relationships are less "positive" than straight relationships. Also, you don't know God's intended purpose or plan beyond what it is for your own life, so please stop trying to speak for God. As a human being, you couldn't possibly understand God's plan, especially as far as the relationships of other people are concerned.

    September 8, 2011 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • W.G.

      Gay men are more likely to have multiple partners . This is how the aids epidemic was originally spread around
      the world .

      September 9, 2011 at 6:03 am | Report abuse |
  13. GrogInOhio

    Heck... let's create white, anglo-saxon, protestant,straight ONLY hospitals, grocery stores, schools, fire depts and trash collection while we're at it!

    September 8, 2011 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bosko

      You are right, except for the trash collection part. Colored People (see NAACP), white trash irish and mexicans have to do that stuff.

      September 9, 2011 at 12:20 am | Report abuse |
  14. Donor

    The sad truth is that there is discrimination going on but it is against military personnel. I've donated blood and platlets over 50 times and I have read through all the questions more than enough. There are several questions where military personnel can end up being excluded for either 12 months or permantently. These people are serving their country and willing to put their lives on hold to do so. Yet, there is no outcry on their behalf. This change is based on political pressure to allow a relatively small portion of the population to feel good and it will provide a rather small increase to the blood supply. Yet, politically it makes for good PR. How about they spend time looking at the rules that impact a much LARGER group of people who have shown through their commitment to the services that they are willing to give.

    September 8, 2011 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kirstyloo

      Most military personal are deferred because they gone to site with a high risk of malarial infection or they lived in Europe or England for a given period of time. In both of these cases, the US can't screen their blood for the pathogen (malaria and Creutzfeldt-Jakob ("mad cow") disease. This is in contrast to the ability to screen for HIV and the reliablity of the test if exposure was >1 year. This isn't to diminish the service given by our military personal.

      Signed, someone permanently deferred because of living in England for 9 months

      September 8, 2011 at 6:34 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Steve

    Very real reasons pimpson just like the very real reasons I have? Highest drug use rate, so they'll probably be stealing needles and medications. Race with the largest infection rate of HIV and AIDS. Largest consumer of fried chicken which according to my god is bondage and deserving of an eternity of burning in hell.

    September 8, 2011 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
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