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. @medical student

    I guess you missed class the week hyperbaric chambers were discussed. One can lose 80% of ones blood and survive inside of an hyperbaric chamber while the body produces it's own blood. I thought all med students knew this.

    September 8, 2011 at 9:24 pm | Report abuse |
  2. THE ONE AND ONLY DRAKOREX1

    NO COMMENT.

    September 8, 2011 at 9:40 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Beefburger

    There was an article on here last night about the LBGT community and their specific "health crisis" needs that they say should be more training in med school. But here on this article, everything is just rosy with the LBGT community, which is it?

    Speaking as someone who has worked for years in the blood and plasma collection field, I KNOW for a fact that gays will lie straight through their teeth about their status and history. Why? BECAUSE THEY DO NOT CARE IF THEY RISK THE LIVES OF "BREEDERS"! BECAUSE THEY THINK THEY ARE BETTER THAN YOU!

    September 8, 2011 at 9:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wzrd1

      Or far more likely, they believe that they are not infected, hence not a risk.
      Meanwhile, your license should be revoked, as you obviously have prejudiced views and would be a risk to our blood supply by refusing donations that are desperately needed.

      September 8, 2011 at 9:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • YouAreQuiteDisgusting

      You're a disgusting example of a human being. I mean seriously? Who would ever allow you to work. The bile spewing from your mouth is enough to make satan vomit.

      September 9, 2011 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
  4. @Wiz

    I was trying to simplify Dr. Koop and his 300-plus investigators report to Congress. The virus is found in BLOOD, not just semen. Your mouth bleeds. There is blood in your snot, etc. For a condom to work, it would need to be placed around your real head and entire body. The virus is much smaller than a sperm...and condoms can't even stop sperm but what...94% of the time? You go ahead and take it up the ass. As long as your butt buddy is wearing a condom, it that dog-collar around your neck and chain or your sig. other doesn't draw blood with his whip...you'll probably be good to go again next time.

    September 8, 2011 at 10:31 pm | Report abuse |
  5. @Wiz

    DNA "reprogrammed" to RNA is verbage people here can relate to. We all know what programming is. So explain...how can a device that has been proven innefective at stopping a big thing stop millions of small things?

    September 8, 2011 at 10:37 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jake

    If all donated blood is being properly tested, then it shouldn't matter who's allowed to give blood. End of story.

    September 8, 2011 at 10:43 pm | Report abuse |
  7. @Jake

    Fine and dandy...except for the fact that now we know that the virus can remain dormant and undetectable for periods of over 10 years. If your own antibodies don't detect it, the test result would show 'negative'...because the test doesn't count viruses, it counts antibodies that have detected the virus.

    September 8, 2011 at 10:48 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Jazzzzzzzz

    @ Recollections
    True those groups are the HIGH risk ones, yet I would suggest for those who will not just simply OBSTAIN till marriage...why don't you just take a gun load it with 3 bullets, close the chamber, draw and shoot
    Is any of you still alive?
    DO YOU GET ME!!!!!!

    September 8, 2011 at 10:56 pm | Report abuse |
  9. The Book "Collbran; recollections of a molested child all growed up."

    Yes, I understand what Jesus meant when he said that we should not be so concerned with our own puny little lives, but rather be concerned with Truth. Jesus said the reason he came here in the first place was to "bear witness to the truth about God". Remember? The pagan Pontius Pilate responded "what is truth?" and washed his hands of him. (Jesus) Esposing the truth about God should be a Chritians focus in life...not something as mundane as marrying or bearing children. There will be plenty of time for that once this earth is rid of the war mongering peoples and those who carlessly spread disease and ruin this earth. Get it?

    September 8, 2011 at 11:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • YouAreQuiteDisgusting

      This is why people don't want to be christian. Bunch of ignorant a**holes.

      September 9, 2011 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
  10. cont

    Most Christians believe that Jesus came to save...to offer his own life as a ransom for many. But that was the LAST Thing he did on this earth as a man. Take a gander at what he was doing the 3 and 1/2 years before he was murdered. He was telling the Truth about God and exposing the liars.

    September 8, 2011 at 11:41 pm | Report abuse |
  11. cont

    "The TRUTH shall set you free" said Jesus. Being married with children does not set you free, Mary. Get it?

    September 8, 2011 at 11:45 pm | Report abuse |
  12. psychology

    @Michelle. I noticed that you didn't even know the actual infection rates of lezbians, nor the actual death rates of. Who will believe you? If you knew, you would have posted them. But you didn't.

    September 9, 2011 at 2:23 am | Report abuse |
  13. Don

    So...it's ok to get a blood transfusion from a lesbian? LMAO is it because they're afraid that gay blood will turn straight men into gay? if so, I guess they don't mind lesbians? I thought the medical field was scientific not ignorant....maybe they just based this on statistics of gay men having HIV/AIDS and it makes their jobs easier just to ban them forever, plus they'll less likely get sued if they give infected blood to someone who doesn't have HIV/AIDS?

    September 9, 2011 at 4:25 am | Report abuse |
  14. Anon

    Maybe in 1000 years the USA will catch up to this point of social enlightenment.

    September 9, 2011 at 5:46 am | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      People shouldn't be discriminated against, but my concern is that this is still a high risk population. The latency period of HIV also makes testing for it difficult.. e.i. it takes weeks of months to show up. If infections rates are consistent with other populations they should be allowed to contribute. If not, I dont see any reason to complain about the exclusion of blood from this segment of the population. I'd rather miinimze the risk of this lifet hreatening virus at the expense of someone's feelings.

      September 9, 2011 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
  15. W.G.

    Once again "political correctness" rears it´s ugly head ! With lemmimng like precision the brits are trying to kill as many
    of their own citizens as possible . Not unlike allowing more muslims into their country .

    September 9, 2011 at 5:59 am | Report abuse |
    • Lena Shamisam

      Islam is actually peaceful. The Islamic extremists are not unlike the KKK, the Christian extremists-not well liked by those with a functioning brain. Feel the love, guys!

      September 9, 2011 at 8:19 am | Report abuse |
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