More gay and bisexual men able to donate after historic rule change; ITV News
More gay and bisexual men will be allowed to donate blood, platelets and plasma after new “historic” rules come into effect this week.
The new eligibility rules came into effect on Monday on World Blood Donor Day and mean donors from England, Scotland and Wales will no longer be asked if they are a man who has had sex with another man, said the NHS Blood and Transplant.
Instead, anyone who shows up to donate blood, regardless of gender, will be asked if they have had sex and, if so, about their recent sexual behaviors, he added. .
Anyone who has had the same sexual partner in the past three months will be eligible to donate, meaning more gay and bisexual men will be able to donate blood, platelets and plasma while keeping the blood just as safe. , he added.
Ella Poppitt, Head Nurse for Blood Donation at NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “Patient safety is at the heart of everything we do.
“This change is about changing the way we assess the risk of exposure to sexual infection, so that it is more suited to the individual.
“We review all donations for evidence of significant infections, which goes hand in hand with donor screening to maintain the safety of blood sent to hospitals.
“All donors will now be asked about sexual behaviors that could have increased their risk of infection, especially recently acquired infections. This means that some donors may not be eligible on this day, but may be in the future. “
Changes to the Donor Safety Screening Form will affect donors of blood, plasma and platelets, but the blood donation process will not change.
Eligibility will be based on individual circumstances surrounding health, travel and sexual behaviors that pose a higher risk for sexual infection, NHS Blood and Transplant said.
Under the changes, people can donate if they have had the same sexual partner in the past three months, or if they have a new sexual partner with whom they have not had anal sex and who ‘There is no known recent exposure to a sexually transmitted infection (STI) or recent use of pre-exposure (PrEP) or post-exposure (PEP) prophylaxis.
Anyone who has had anal sex with a new partner or with multiple partners in the past three months will not be able to donate blood but may be eligible in the future, he said.
The changes have been welcomed by charities including the National Aids Trust, Stonewall and Terrence Higgins Trust.
Robbie de Santos, Director of Communications and External Affairs for Stonewall, said: “We welcome today’s historic change, which will help ensure that more gay and bisexual men can donate blood and is a milestone. important towards a donation selection policy entirely based on an individualized assessment. risk.
“We want to see a blood donation system that allows as many people as possible 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, can donate blood safely in the future. “
But the Terrence Higgins Trust said the government has maintained a “discriminatory restriction” in England that will affect the ability of black communities to donate blood.
The restriction relates to a three-month deferment period for anyone who has a “partner who has, or you think has been, sexually active in areas of the world where HIV / AIDS is widespread” and refers to “the Most African countries, ”added the association.
Its Chief Executive Officer Ian Green said: “It is great news that many more gay and bisexual men are able to donate blood safely starting today.
“But the excitement over this announcement is considerably dampened by another discriminatory issue the government has retained in the blood donation process in England, which is a significant barrier for black donors, especially blood donation.”
“This despite being phased out in Scotland and Wales, and the blood service is actively encouraging black communities to donate plasma and blood due to shortages. “
The changes follow a review of individualized criteria by the FAIR (For Individualized Risk Assessment) steering group led by the NHS Blood and Transplant.
To become a blood donor, register and make an appointment by calling 0300 123 2323, downloading the GiveBloodNHS app or visiting www.blood.co.uk.