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. XYZ

    I guess I will be storing my own blood from now on. This is not about discrimination – this is about dangerous donating, and people who have been to malaria swept areas, or people that are promiscuous, or any have been exposed to any other dangerous disease should not donate – this is not about discrimination – it is about not giving a donor a potentially dangerous and lethal blood donation like Ryan White had.

    September 8, 2011 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jodey

      You do know the Ryan White thing happened 25 years ago, right? Things are different now, and screening procedures are better. If your life depended one a gay person's blood, you'd be whistling a different tune.

      September 8, 2011 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • mark in nyc

      you are an idiot. no offense to idiots.

      September 8, 2011 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • MichaelInDC

      Are you assuming that gay men are promicsous while straight men are not?

      September 8, 2011 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joni

      "This is not about discrimination" almost always really means "this is entirely about discrimination."

      September 8, 2011 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      The gays should stop crying about discrimination. You post shows how you are afraid to talk about them. Gays are called gays. There is no discrimination. Somehow gays can insult us calling idiots and morons (Mark in NYC and Derick). THAT is discrimination.

      September 8, 2011 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jobasaur

      I guess we should also block black females from donating blood. You know, since they're the most likely demographic group to carry HIV.

      September 8, 2011 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Krissie

      You do realize they test EVERY pint of blood that gets donated, right? So, why is it any more dangerous for a person who happens to be gay to donate?

      September 8, 2011 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nope

      Get over yourself Bob. You are not important in the grand scheme of things... just another human being on par with any gay person on the planet. You are not any better so quit acting like it.

      September 8, 2011 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
  2. marc

    HUGH!!!! Mistake by doing this one, they are really going to be sorry in the future mark my words.

    September 8, 2011 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • marc

      HUGE!!! TYPO...Mistake by doing this one, they are really going to be sorry in the future mark my words.

      September 8, 2011 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Derick

      Oh ok. I will scrap the professional opinion of the Department of Health and instead mark the words of a moron named "marc" who can neither spell correctly nor bother to capitalize his own name. Your ignorant words are marked!

      September 8, 2011 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • mark in nyc

      if ignorance is bliss, you must be the happiest person on the planet.

      September 8, 2011 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • AFATCOW123

      i agree

      September 8, 2011 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
  3. OSuzanne

    Political Correctness run amok, yet again. The cost to society will be great.

    September 8, 2011 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • mark in nyc

      no one is stopping you from leave the planet.

      September 8, 2011 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
  4. E

    I applaud the UK for removing this lifetime ban. Our blood supply in the United States would benefit from a similar review and change.

    September 8, 2011 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Prince

    Keep the donations labeled: straight, gay, etc. Just like an investor that prefers ethical to unethical [tobacco, alcohol, etc] investment instruments. End of problem.

    September 8, 2011 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
  6. mettle69

    If some of you knew how many times this gay man has donated blood over the years, you'd probably crap yourselves... and for no good reason.l

    September 8, 2011 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
  7. TC

    As a gay man, I used to think the gay blood ban was discriminatory. Then I realized: there is no way they can guarantee me my blood won't be used to help save a Republican.

    September 8, 2011 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Krissie

      Love <3

      September 8, 2011 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Yul Strok'eet Awl-Wasch

    But it'll turn you gay!

    September 8, 2011 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Drill Press

    Still no responses as to how giving blood is a "right"???

    @Matthew – "can not" or "cannot". Either is acceptable.

    September 8, 2011 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Steve

    I don't want to risk my health in the event that I would need a blood donation. So, I move that we write up a law that only white virgins (I won't discriminate. Gay and straight virgins are ok by me.) who eat only organic and balanced meals and exercise two hours daily be the only ones to donate.

    September 8, 2011 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Drill Press

    @TC. Right there with ya. I quit donating blood because I have no guarantee that it won't be used to save someone that I dislike (gays, libs, etc.)

    September 8, 2011 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • mettle69

      You two feel better now? You get your daily dose of bipartisan slap fights out of your system?

      September 8, 2011 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Drill Press

    Slapping is for p*ssies.

    September 8, 2011 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
  13. ANDREW

    Why get blood Transfusions? Three are ways to Preventing and Controlling Hemorrhage Without Blood Transfusion

    September 8, 2011 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nickygirl

      my mom has a friend with pancreatic cancer. Once a month she needs to go to the hospital for a transfusion because her blood counts are extremely low and they can't treat her at those levels. This Dec. she'll be going on two years after her diagnosis, and she still travels and lives her life, and she was given a year to live then!

      September 8, 2011 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
  14. ANDREW

    Preventing and Controlling Hemorrhage Without Blood Transfusion
    1. Surgical Devices:
    a. Electrocautery
    b. Laser surgery
    c. Argon beam coagulator
    d. Gamma knife radiosurgery

    September 8, 2011 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • medicalstudent

      you don't prevent hemorrhage with a blood transfusion you correct hemorrhage with a blood transfusion to replace blood volume.

      If you don't replace volume lost after a major hemorrhage, it doesn't matter if you stop the bleeding, the patient dies.

      Stop spreading misinformation you're taking articles out of context and trying to convince people there's some magical alternative to replacing lost blood. There isn't.

      Someone may actually be stupid enough to listen to you though, refuse a blood transfusion after a traumatic accident and die. Their death will be on your hands.

      September 8, 2011 at 8:55 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Ben

    I hope they don't lift the ban in the states. God frequently punish gays for their sin. AIDS was the big thing in the eighties and gays are overdue for another punishment by god. Regular people should not have to worry about contracting another disease from gays.

    September 8, 2011 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nickygirl

      so explain how straight people of both genders contract the disease? It's not a "gay problem", everyone is at risk, and not just because of deviant practices in the bedroom!

      September 8, 2011 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Boston1981

      Well I'm openly gay and I have been since I came out when I was 16. My life is fantastic and very blessed. It's full of love from family and friends, I have a wonderful job/co-workers, spirituality is with me and I'm fairly privileged. I'm also HIV negative. God loves me.

      September 8, 2011 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      Please tell me this is a has to be a joke, right???

      September 8, 2011 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • f off

      when you have that accident from drinking too much and driving because you are so repressed, i hope you enjoy the slow painful death you will receive when you refuse a transfusion from a qu-eer. with any luck it will be televised.

      September 8, 2011 at 8:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • medicalstudent

      Immunize yourself with education to prevent getting the disease of ignorance from the hillbillies and rednecks

      September 8, 2011 at 8:56 pm | Report abuse |
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