Under current rules, men who have sex with men are only allowed to donate blood if they have been celibate for three months. But new rules announced on Monday allow men in the UK to donate blood if they have not had sex with a new partner or more than one person in the past three months.
The changes will take effect by summer 2021, iNews reports.
All blood donors who have had one sexual partner, and who have been with their sexual partner for more than three months, will be eligible to donate.
This is regardless of their gender, their partner’s gender or the type of sex they have.
There must be no known exposure to a sexually transmitted infection and they must not be using anti-HIV drugs PreP or PEP.
The policy change means donors will be assessed on an individual basis.
The change follows a report by “FAIR” the “For Assessment of Individualised Risk” steering group.
Gay men were banned from donating for life until 2011 when this was reduced to a one-year abstinence requirement.
In 2017, this was cut to three months.
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Health Secretary Matt Hancock told iNews: “This landmark change to blood donation is safe and it will allow many more people, who have previously been excluded by donor selection criteria, to take the opportunity to help save lives.
“This is a positive step and recognises individuals for the actions they take rather than their sexual preference.”
Su Brailsford is associate medical director at NHS Blood and Transport, which oversees blood donations in England and transplants across the UK.
She said: “Patients rely on the generosity and altruism of donors for their life-saving blood.
“We are proud to have the safest blood supply in the world and I’m pleased to have concluded that these new changes to donor selection will keep blood just as safe.”
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HIV charity the Terrence Higgins Trust has also praised the move.
Dr Michael Brady, medical director at the Terrence Higgins Trust, told The Mirror: “Our first priority must be to ensure the safety of the blood supply in the UK.
“We welcome the move to a more individualised risk assessment approach to blood donation.
“There is certainly more work to do and we will continue to work to ensure that our blood donation service is inclusive, evidence based and both maximises the numbers who can donate while ensuring our blood supply is safe.”
Ethan Spibey, founder of FreedomToDonate, has been campaigning for these changes for more than six years.
The group is said to “warmly welcome” this announcement.