Change in blood donation rule allows more gay and bisexual men to donate blood

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The changes to the questions asked of blood donors will allow more gay and bisexual men to be able to donate blood in the future.

Currently, men cannot donate blood in the UK if they have had sex with another man in the past three months, according to previous expert advice.

However, new recommendations, which the Blood, Tissue and Organs Safety Advisory Committee (SaBTO) is happy with, will continue to ensure blood safety, meaning that men will no longer be automatically banned from donating blood. blood if they have had sex with another man in the past three months.

The Scottish Minister for Public Health said this would ensure a “fairer” assessment of risk in blood donors with the aim of ensuring equality and inclusion for all.

The changes, which are slated to take place in 2021, mean all potential donors must be asked additional questions about their sexual behaviors.

However, the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service (SNBTS) has ensured that all information provided by donors remains strictly confidential.

Men who have sex with men were not able to donate blood at all in the UK before 2011 – however the rules were relaxed in Scotland, England and Wales in 2017 to allow them to donate blood. donate blood if they have not had sex with another man in the three months prior to the donation.

The other changes announced today follow recommendations from the Specialized Steering Group for Individualized Risk Assessment (FAIR) made up of leading medical and academic experts and LGBTI + groups.

Public Health Minister Joe FitzPatrick said: “I welcome the recommendations of the FAIR group, which will allow for a more individualized risk assessment approach to blood donor safety checks while continuing to ensure a safe blood supply. to patients.

“We are committed to equality and inclusion, and these changes will ensure that a fairer and more up-to-date risk assessment is applied to men and women to determine whether donors may be at risk of. infection with a virus transmitted by blood.

“I am happy to report that SNBTS expects to be able to implement these changes by summer 2021.

“They will work to prepare their systems and staff for these changes and will also work to educate existing and potential donors about the changes in advance.”

SNBTS Director Craig Spalding said: ‘We are proud to have been involved in the work that has been undertaken to enable the Scottish Government to make an informed decision on reviewing and changing the conditions for donor eligibility. .

“Donor eligibility based on personal risk assessments, rather than broader demographic information such as sexuality, is a welcome change.

“We are grateful to all donors in Scotland and look forward to welcoming a larger sample of the population, especially men who have sex with men who will be able to donate under the new criteria.”


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