The Government has announced changes to blood donation rules with a move to individualised risk assessments for all potential donors. This is the result of a review of the three-month deferral period for gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men.
Eligibility for blood donation will now be based on behaviours rather than blanket rules based on gender or sexuality. This means a fairer blood donation system, while also preserving the safety of the UK’s blood supply. The changes will come into effect from summer 2021.
Changes include that men who have sex with men who are in a long-term relationship will be able to donate blood.
The policy change is based on findings from the FAIR (For Assessment of Individualised Risk) report, produced by a collaboration of UK blood services and LGBT charities, including us.
Dr Michael Brady, Medical Director at Terrence Higgins Trust, said: 'Our first priority must always be to ensure the safety of the blood supply in the UK. We welcome this move to a more individualised risk assessment approach for any potential donor, which both maximises the number of people who can donate while ensuring the blood supply is safe.
'Eligibility to donate blood will now be based on the behaviours identified as being at highest risk of infection, rather than gender or sexuality. This means the removal of the three month deferral period for gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men.
'Welcome changes include the differentiation between oral and anal sex, and for those whose partner is HIV positive and virally supressed due to six months or more of adherence to treatment.
‘There is certainly more work to do and we will continue to work to ensure that our blood donation service is inclusive and evidence based.
'The scope of this review was to consider the three month deferral period for men who have sex with men, which has been addressed. We now need to look at the restrictions in place for other groups, including former injecting drug users, to see if we can safely make the blood donation eligibility even more inclusive.'