“Obsolete and discriminatory” question must be removed from blood donation forms

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Food donation needs to be made more inclusive with the removal of an issue labeled “obsolete, unnecessary and actively discriminatory”.

It is hoped that this change will make it easier for black African donors in particular to donate blood.

Potential donors in England will no longer see themselves, by the end of this year, asking a question that created “unease” especially within the black African community.

The question, which is currently part of donor security screening, asks people if they have recently had sex with a partner who may have previously been sexually active in an HIV-endemic region, which includes most of sub-Saharan Africa.

We are creating a fairer system for donating blood. And, as we recover from this pandemic, we pledge to upgrade society, which includes improving access to services for all

Those who answer yes are deferred for three months after the last sexual contact with that partner, and the consequence has often been that some black African donors and other potential donors in long-term relationships have been unable to donate blood.

The Department of Health said the decision to withdraw the issue, made as a result of research by the Fair (For Individualized Risk Assessment) steering group and supported by the Blood, Tissue and Blood Safety Advisory Committee organs (Sabto), will not compromise the safety of the UK blood supply.

The donor form will contain other questions aimed at detecting individual high-risk behaviors, including recent trips to countries where HIV is endemic, the department added.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid hailed the change as “another gradual step forward, focusing on individual behaviors, rather than general postponements, and reducing the limitations for people to donate blood.”

Health Secretary Sajid Javid (Stefan Rousseau / PA) / PA wire

He added: “This will make it easier for black donors in particular to donate blood, thus saving lives.

“We are creating a fairer system for donating blood. And, as we recover from this pandemic, we are committed to upgrading society, which includes improving access to services for all. “

The health ministry said the change would also give more opportunities for people to donate rarer blood types, as people from black Africa, black Caribbean and mixed black ethnicity are more likely to have the disease. rare blood subgroup, like Ro, which many black sickle cell patients require.

Sabto Chairman Professor James Neuberger described the move as “a positive step towards equality, informed by evidence, helping to create a fairer system for blood donors without affecting the security of the blood supply. blood”.

NHS officials believe question to be deleted is unnecessary (NHS blood and transplant document / PA) / PA Media

Su Brailsford, Associate Medical Director of NHS Blood and Transplant and Chair of Fair, said it is hoped the change “will eliminate the long-felt unease among some donors about this – especially the black African community we are working hard to listen to. needs. and better address those of African origin, and their partners, who are all disproportionately affected ”.

Deborah Gold, Executive Director of the National Aids Trust, said: “We are delighted the Secretary of State has confirmed that this outdated, unnecessary and actively discriminatory issue will be removed from donor screening forms.

“The science is clear that it is not necessary and does nothing to improve safety. Instead, it actively prevents much-needed donors from coming forward to donate blood, especially black communities. “

The change will be reviewed after one year, by the Fair and Sabto steering group.

The Department of Health said all donations in the UK are tested for many possible infections, including HIV, and that there are “robust surveillance mechanisms” in place to ensure safety.

The risk of an HIV-infected donation going undetected is estimated at around one in 23 million, the department added.


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