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‘A victory for science over stigmatising assumptions’

‘A victory for science over stigmatising assumptions’

A blood bag

Terrence Higgins Trust comments on changes to blood donation restrictions.

Alex Phillips, Blood Donations Policy Lead at Terrence Higgins Trust, said:

“We’ve long fought for an evidence-based blood donation policy, and are therefore delighted that the lifetime ban on former and current sex workers donating blood will finally be lifted. This is a victory for science over stigmatising assumptions.

“The lifetime blood donation ban on anyone who works or used to work in the sex industry in the UK is based on preconceptions rather than evidence, and the rules needed reviewing to fit the facts.
 
“We know from our research that the majority of sex workers take great care of their sexual health, with 98% of sex workers we asked rating their sexual health as very important, 76% having a sexual health check up every three months, and 98% knowing their HIV status.”

Commenting on the policy for men who have sex with men, Alex said:
 
“We’re pleased to see a further reduction in the deferral period for men who have sex with men and we welcome this progress. 

“However, we urge the government to invest in gathering more robust scientific evidence on the risk of transmission of blood-borne viruses from men who engage in oral sex with men. We know from clinical and epidemiological experience that the risk of HIV from oral sex is extremely low, but this review has missed the opportunity to gather the robust scientific evidence needed to update the policies.”

Alex added:

“The decisions announced today will enable more people to give blood, while maintaining the safety of the blood supply. We hope this paves the way for more progress as further evidence becomes available, and we’re now urging the government to continue to regularly review the deferral periods in line with the latest evidence.”

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