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.

“The 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.”

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. PLayers

    Now they should ban Hetero's from giving blood to equal it out.

    September 8, 2011 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lena Shamisam

      That really won't help. As Nelson Mandela said, gays "must show them that they (he said "we" but I'm straight) are not what they(apartheid members) thought that they (again, we) would be."

      September 9, 2011 at 8:28 am | Report abuse |
  2. ANDREW

    If anyone wants a Blood Transfusion, then they can get the disease that carries it!

    September 8, 2011 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Huh?

      Wants a blood transfusion? My infant daughter required a transfusion in the NICU because of a prolapsed cord. She was born with less than half of the normal blood volume, and required a transfusion to live. People require blood transfusions every day because of blood loss due to an accident, surgery, anemia, etc. I don't think this is something that is "chosen".

      September 8, 2011 at 7:03 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Pimpson

    The AIDS rates are gays, it doesn't matter what race they are when they cross the line to gay.. Wanna fail again? lol

    September 8, 2011 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Jason

    LOL...what "data proves it"? Just because you made up some kind of data doesn't make it true.

    But watch, I can do it too: from the best I can tell, the data proves you're a moron.

    September 8, 2011 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
  5. I'mstraight

    ...but if being gay is genetic, and I accept their blood, am I going to become gay?! Pleae explain, my brain hurts this jolly day.

    September 8, 2011 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • ajax

      Genetics aren't related to blood. Genetics are related to genes. You need to go back to school.

      September 8, 2011 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      Short answer: Yes.

      In addition to this happening though, you will gain a keen fashion sense, become a good listener, start to like lady gaga, and the real definition of Rick Santorum.

      September 8, 2011 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • I'mstraight

      @ Ajax – I asked to be edcuated and you go and act retarded. /grats to stuckupisms. Anyways, I'm fairly certain genes are in the DNA of the BLOOD which becomes the rest of the body at some point in time. Again, I'm willing to be stood corrected if someone would intelligently respond. No point in using Wiki if all the educators state that we're not allowed to quote it.

      September 8, 2011 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • jjd

      Blood cells don't have nuclei, and thus don't have DNA, dufus.

      September 8, 2011 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Blah

      Blood cells do not have DNA (it's nothing but hemoglobin). Therefore, gay blood does not make you gay...

      September 8, 2011 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • jjd

      And even if it did...say for example you want to count the white blood cells, which DO have nuclei, or perhaps even the mitochondrial DNA (which...oops...the red blood cells don't have, either), it's ridiculous to think and scientifically false to claim that the transfused blood is going to somehow merge with you, making you some kind of chimeric (look it up) transgenic (look that up, too) compilation of straight and gay DNA.

      Now....if you're talking about viruses that may be present (though most certainly screened against)...that's different. I hear the Gay Flu is a real pain in the ass...

      September 8, 2011 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • ROCKWOOD

      Um, you're already gay.....

      September 8, 2011 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Aony

      Yeap. If you get gay blood, you'd become gay. if it's of woman, you'd become, of course, gay unless it's of lesbian. :rolleyes"

      September 8, 2011 at 6:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • I'mstraight

      and still need more understanding. @ Blah and JJD – Blood is more than Red blood cells, right? So yes, it can have DNA. So don't go minimizing what I refer to as blood to just 'mature red blood cells.' "it's ridiculous to think and scientifically false to claim that the transfused blood is going to somehow merge with you, making you some kind of chimeric (look it up) transgenic (look that up, too) compilation of straight and gay DNA." – Okay, but where is ever been tested? Explain also the difference in fetal genetics and genetics that keep you alive after birth? Every 7 years, we're a new person (on a cellular level, am I right?). How can you proclaim this is as a scientifically false claim without these kind of studies (hypocritical i think)? The blood received from a transfusion doesn't go away, you are a human chimera afterwards, what prevents you from being altered later in life by the foreign DNA in blood (again, blood contains more than red cells)?

      September 9, 2011 at 10:29 am | Report abuse |
  6. ANDREW

    Its not just Gays! Everyone carries a Virus in them! The fact that doctors can't see the virus does not mean its not there!

    September 8, 2011 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
  7. I'mstraight

    ...and you're weird. Thus my question below for someone else.

    September 8, 2011 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
  8. KJM1968

    Abbey, please learn proper grammar before posting your idiotic rants, your third grade education is showing.

    September 8, 2011 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Boston1981

    Ermmm... who cares where the blood came from? Don't they test ALL blood anyway before injecting it into another human being?!!? So... by this logic... if the person donating says, "I'm straight"... then they take their word for it, automatically assume because they're straight they couldn't possibly have AIDS as only gay people get it... and then don't test it and inject it into another person. Yea, this all makes total sense.

    September 8, 2011 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      Ok my little slow friend I will break it down so you understand the problem. They don't take anyone who knowingly admits to an act that could increase the risk of infection. The still test everyone but the test is not 100% accurate. So to make that small inaccuracy smaller you try to make the risk of accepting infected blood smaller. The question is really how long until the aids virus reaches a measurable level? Is it a year in every case or can we never really know? Is it better to just not accept blood from those who engage in risky behaviors at all? I vote the latter and hope that no one lies but I still test just in case. I then cross my fingers the next time I need blood.

      September 8, 2011 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Boston1981

      To my slower friend... the test wouldn't be accurate no matter who it came from. To be so foolish as to think that by simply asking people to disclose that information at a blood donation clinic and just blindly smiling and taking it as truth as if that is really going to make the difference between getting tainted blood or not has me honestly concerned for you and how you percieve not only gay and straight people – but a society in general.

      September 8, 2011 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • prematureape

      Jesus Boston, he siad it would reduce the risk. Even if some people simply lie, there will be others that answer honestly. Hence, at least some amount of reduced risk. It's not complicated.

      September 8, 2011 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Boston1981

      Ape I understand that. Pre-testing before donation would reduce the risk even more. The whole point of this article is that the ban is outdated and illogical. Yet while it is in place it's a complete slap in the face to an entire community of people who don't deserve such a stigma. It encourages the concept that AIDS is a gay disease. And yes people are that ignorant.

      September 8, 2011 at 7:41 pm | Report abuse |
  10. ANDREW

    The facts are there are other diseases out there that doctors can not detect with blood Transfusions. People need to look for alternatives to Blood Transfusions!

    September 8, 2011 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Michelle

      Yeah, they're working on it, with mediocre success. And in the meantime, what do you suggest? Letting people die instead?

      September 8, 2011 at 7:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Don

      i'll take a gay pig's blood if that would save me from dying.

      September 9, 2011 at 4:19 am | Report abuse |
    • Lena Shamisam

      Such as...

      September 9, 2011 at 8:22 am | Report abuse |
  11. getwith thetimes

    jesus, you're retarded.

    September 8, 2011 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Robert 2

      No, Jesus was a zombie.

      September 8, 2011 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Steve

    It's a 60/40 split. I'd rather be safe and ban all 100% from my hospital.

    September 8, 2011 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
  13. sortakinda

    Hey, I'm not a racist. I just include the Black midgets, leprechauns and witches under the heading "Black People." The other categories include midgets, leprechauns and witches who happen NOT to be black. I also think Pimp's Sons should have THEIR own hospitals, too. And seats at lunch counters and water fountains.

    September 8, 2011 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
  14. letsgomets2011

    Speaking of stones, sweetie, let he who is without sin cast the first one.

    September 8, 2011 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Gay

    Where did you get your education? There is one thing to be glad in this world, and that is most people aren't as ignorant as you are.

    September 8, 2011 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
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