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. Michelle

    Straight people get HIV. Straight people get AIDS. Straight people get Hep-A, Hep-B, and Hep-C. Straight people get HPV and syphilis. So, based on that, let's ban straight people from donating blood, too. Obviously, we can't have all these disgusting, diseased straight people risking the blood supply just because they want to donate.

    Here's a news flash: People who donate blood are folks who have every reason to know that they're not carrying any infectious diseases. I know several gay men who have no STD's. How do they know? The same way straight people know. They don't do drugs and they don't have casual or unprotected relations. Not every gay person is promiscuous or a druggie.

    Besides, at this stage of the game, HIV and AIDS is becoming more and more common in the African-American population. What should we do? Ban black people from donating? That's ludicrous.

    Healthy, disease-free people should donate. If you have any chance of having contracted any infectious agent (including things as simple as sinus infections), don't donate.

    And to all you straight folks on the boards here... unless you have NEVER had s_ex (protected OR unprotected) with a partner that you weren't 100% familiar with, who had also never had s_ex with a partner he or she was unfamiliar with, then you have no right to talk here. You can pick up anything from anyone. Had a one-night stand? You don't know that person... you could have dormant HIV in your blood. That party in college where you can't remember most of what you did? Same deal. You're not innocent either.

    September 8, 2011 at 7:34 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Mmmmm

    UK has taken one big step backwards. What they really should say: of course you can use Vampire's blood but all your healthy blood cells will turn vampire! You'll be the walking dead taking meds you can never ever afford to buy that will never ever cure you...

    September 8, 2011 at 7:36 pm | Report abuse |
  3. JUST WHAT DO YOU TAKE US FOR

    DONT RECIEVE BLOOD FROM AIDS INFECTED PEOPLE ENOUGH SAID

    September 8, 2011 at 7:37 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Mmmmm

    well the Brits appear to be content with this health policy. No looting, no overturned burning cars or community civil disobedience...I guess the rest the of the world will just have to strike them off their dating lists...

    September 8, 2011 at 7:47 pm | Report abuse |
  5. mr donut

    don't take blood at all, it's a sin !

    September 8, 2011 at 7:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • YouAreQuiteDisgusting

      I request that you do not breed. Since it is quite obvious that you'd rather your children die than recieve a possibly necessary yet somehow "sinful" blood transfusion. I hope you get in a serious car accident and are dying from it and we'll see if you refuse to take that "sinful" blood.

      September 9, 2011 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse |
  6. we should reduce safeguards concerning AIDS

    ...now that the CDC (our own American Centers for Disease Control) reports that AIDS pandemic. It WAS just an epidemic you know. Does this lifting of the ban on those we know to be the primary carriers of this disease not go against every other way we have dealt with diseases? If the spread of the disease keeps increasing, do we not usually increase our safeguards?

    September 8, 2011 at 7:55 pm | Report abuse |
  7. david

    gays and aids are like egg and shell there one and the same thing. god created aids for gay as wrath and punishment from him. i believe all gays should be wiped out the whole world in order to to save the mankind.

    September 8, 2011 at 7:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • YouAreQuiteDisgusting

      There is a special row in hell for "Christians" like you.

      September 9, 2011 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse |
  8. we should reduce safeguards concerning AIDS

    The world od science and medicine officially gave-up trying to find the cure for the common cold about 30 yrs. ago. The cold-virus is simply too complicated for them to understand to the point of a cure. Countless billions of dollars were spent the world-iver trying to cure a "simple" cold. The AIDS virus is by an order of magnitued more complicated than the HIV virus. Post what you personally know about the HIV. Evry little I presume.

    September 8, 2011 at 8:06 pm | Report abuse |
  9. f off

    i will happily watch you die as you refuse a transfusion and have refused to accept my hiv- blood for 25 years. KMA LOL

    September 8, 2011 at 8:07 pm | Report abuse |
  10. jdhartlv

    Wow, I'm speechless I think the stupidity speaks for itself.

    September 8, 2011 at 8:13 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Recollections of AIDS

    1.) AIDS is discovered in America in the very early 1980s. 2.) Then President Ronald Reagan, after discussing AIDS with then Surgeons General Dr. C. Evrett Koop, authorized the Congressional funding of Koop forming a team to investigate. 3.) Koop"s official investigation results were reported in OMNI science magazine. 4.) According to the congressionally mandated team of experts led by Koop, all of the first few dozen cases involved gay men living in California. 5.) Their report warned Pres. Reagan that if these gay men were not immediatly quarantined, the virus would spread quickly to the hetero community via bi's and needle sharers. 6.) They also tested condoms...

    September 8, 2011 at 8:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bosko

      An early quarantine could have saved millions of lives.
      Too bad political correctness was more important than people.
      UK can expect a spike in their aids cases.
      Oh, well, death goes on.

      September 8, 2011 at 8:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Doug

      Boski... you are so wrong.. All blood is now tested.. So with you comment you say this, no woman ever ends up in bed with a bi or gay guy... Come on man.. get an education ! in other words, you are stupid !

      September 8, 2011 at 9:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wzrd1

      Bosko, that is shortsighted AND quarantine is imprisonment for no crime, unconst i tutional.
      Yet another rocket scientist that would destroy the nation via the erasure of every right we enjoy.
      There were actually more than the four, later reports determined. By the time the disease was discovered, thousands had HIV living in their blood.
      By the time a test was available for HIV infection, millions were infected.

      September 8, 2011 at 9:36 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Rod C. Venger

    Why would they mess with a good thing? Their stats show that what they are doing is working...no HIV in the blood supply. Why risk that by making changes? Because the queens are frustrated? Pshaw! There was no claim made that more blood was needed, no claim that there was a shortage. They seem to just want to be inclusive. They are risking people's lives in the doing.

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

      Rod, you seem quite uneducated when it comes to this subject.. Learn more then come back and comment, only this time with less hate.. Thanks !

      September 8, 2011 at 8:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • ca

      Doug, there's nothing hateful about not wanting HIV to get into the blood supply.

      September 8, 2011 at 8:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wzrd1

      Why would they reexamine their policies? Because policies are always reexamined and updated.
      Blood supplies are ALWAYS low, people just don't donate enough to have an excess of blood in the blood banks.
      That is true for every nation on the planet.
      They ascertained there was little to no risk with the change, so they changed the policy and will get more blood for the blood bank.
      Meanwhile, ALL blood is screened for HIV.

      September 8, 2011 at 9:39 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Recollections of AIDS

    ..As a way of preventing the sprad of AIDS, and reported that wearing a condom does nothing to protect a person. They learned that the virus is found in all bodily secretions that contain blood, not just sperm as was originally assumed. 7.) President Reagan, not wanting to spread panic, ordered Dr. Koop to go on TV and tell everyone to start wearing condoms to help prevent the spread. Koop refused to do so. Koop was fired and a woman who "looked the other way" replaced him, and to this very day people still believe that there is a link between wearing condoms and preventing the spread of AIDS.

    September 8, 2011 at 8:28 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Recollections of The Virus itself

    1.) The virus, once detected by antibodies, makes itself physically smaller. So small in fact, that it can fit inside a tiny little 'vaccuole'...a tiny cavity in the "skin" of a blood cell. Our own antibodies are too-big...they know that the virus is there, the antibodies are just too nig to fit inside the cavity. 2.) If the virus is caught 'unawares' by our antibodies before it can shrink and hide, it changes it's own chemical make-up to read "glucose" aka 'sugar' to the antibodies, who then leave it alone. 3.) Once inside a blood cell, the virus then 'reprograms' our own DNA to read RNA, and turns our blood cell into a little virus manufacturing facility. 4.) There can never be a "cure", there would literally need to be millions of cures constantly being upgraded to outsmart the virus. 5.) They can't even cure the common cold virus, though they've tried and tried for decades backed by billions in research funding the world over. 6.) Ones only defense against AIDS...

    September 8, 2011 at 8:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wzrd1

      Wow! So much disinformation in one post is astounding!
      A vacuole is NOT on the cell membrane, it is INSIDE the cell. The virus doesn't shrink itself or turn itself into glucose or any other sugar. Antibodies don't enter cells. Condoms DO prevent the transmission of HIV, THOUSANDS of tests have PROVED THAT. Double condom is recommended, in case one fails.
      The cellular DNA isn't reprogrammed to read RNA, the virus splices its genes, via reverse transcriptase, into the host cell nuclear DNA, slicing in with integrase.
      Actually, you've gotten EVERY point wrong. Totally.
      A 0%. An F. As in FAIL.

      September 8, 2011 at 9:45 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Recollections of The Virus itself

    ...is to not include one's self in a high-risk group. The high-risk groups are few: Gay men, bi's, and intraveneous drug users who share needles. If you are currently in one of these groups, you need to get out. If that means celibacy for you, so be it. If that means living a drug-free life, you should be doing that anyway,

    September 8, 2011 at 8:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wzrd1

      So, that is the only way to be infected?
      WRONG.
      Medics, physicians, nurses and police can become infected through cuts and needle sticks and being exposed to the blood of the infected.
      I guess THEY need to get out of their groups too and stop doing those risky behaviors, like saving lives and all.
      You've gotten every possible point wrong and promulgated so much nonsense that is utterly wrong, you should be banned from ever communicating to another human ever again!

      September 8, 2011 at 9:48 pm | Report abuse |
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