Gay and bisexual men can wait a long time to donate blood freely after the “dehumanizing” blood donation rules have been revised.
According to the old rules, gays and bi men were not allowed to donate blood unless they had refrained from sexual activity for more than three months. They were also specifically asked about their sexuality on donation forms.
The reason given was that “men who have sex with men have an increased risk at population level of acquiring certain infections through sex”.
But under the new rules in England, Scotland and Wales, eligibility to donate blood will instead be based on individual circumstances regarding health, travel and sexual behavior.
What does the rule change mean?
Anyone who donates blood – regardless of their gender – is asked if they have had sex and if so, what has been their sexual behavior recently.
Anyone who has had the same sexual partner in the last three months is eligible to donate – regardless of gender or sexuality.
People can also donate if they have a new sexual partner with whom they have never had anal sex and who is not known to have recently had an STI or have recently used PrEP or PEP.
To reduce the risks, those who have had anal sex with a new partner or with multiple partners in the past three months may not donate blood, but may be eligible in the future.
Donors recently treated for gonorrhea are on hold and anyone who has ever been treated for syphilis cannot donate blood.
Wasn’t this rule change announced last year?
Yes, but it won’t come into play until June 14th.
The changes follow an evidence-based review by the FAIR (For the Assessment of Individualized Risk) steering group led by NHS Blood and Transplant.
The new donor selection system aims to be more equitable and will also maintain the UK’s status as one of the world’s safest blood supply companies. Data on the impact of changes in donor selection will be reviewed and evaluated 12 months after implementation to determine if changes are needed.
How do people feel about it?
Commenting on the rule changes when they first announced it in December, Adam Bloodworth wrote for HuffPost UK, “What people may not realize is that dehumanizing rules like this add to the shame that many LGBTQ people carry around as a heavy psychological burden on the day.
“By being excluded from an activity that most people are encouraged to do, we are reminded that we are perceived as ‘different’ by some in society – no matter how often people tell us we are not. “
Ethan Spibey was prevented from donating blood because of his sexuality – he wanted to do his part and donate after a blood donor saved his grandfather’s life but couldn’t. Spibey, who has since advocated a change in donation rules and founded FreedomToDonate, says: “The work of the FAIR steering group shows that being a man who has sex with men is not enough reason to donate blood to be excluded. “.
“This is not just about a more equitable and inclusive system, it is about those who depend on blood, and donating blood literally saves lives. Cant wait to finally pay back the first pint. I would like to encourage anyone who can safely donate blood to register. “
How to donate blood
Gay and bi-men previously turned down to donate blood can call NHS Blood and Transplant on 0300 123 23 23 who will discuss the new guidelines with you and, if eligible, book your next appointment.
Robbie de Santos of the Stonewall charity welcomed the “historic change”.
“We want a blood donation system that allows the largest possible number of people to donate safely, and we will continue to work with the government to build on this progress and ensure that more people, including LGBT + people, donate blood safely in the future can. ” he said.