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A ban on donations of blood made by gay men, which was established during the AIDS crisis 25 years ago, is to be dropped by England, Scotland and Wales. Blood banks in England, Scotland and Wales will allow gay men to give blood, beginning November 7. The UK Department of Health made this announcement Thursday.
On their website, UK National Health Services Blood and Transport (NHSBT), included the criterion that must be met in order for a gay man to donate blood. “The change means that in future only men who have had anal or oral sex with another man in the past 12 months, with or without a condom, will be asked not to donate blood.”
This also includes men who have sex with anyone whose been injected with drugs, whose been with a prostitute, or who has had a sexual encounter with a man who has slept with another man. Men whose last sexual contact with another man was more than 12 months ago will now be approved to donate blood.
According to the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), the ban was put into place in the 1980’s in an effort to avoid the risk of HIV contamination. The new guidelines came after a review conducted by the UK Department of Health reported that “evidence no longer supported the permanent exclusion of men who have had sex with men.
The Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs (SaBTO) studied the latest details on relevant sexual contact in relation to the safety of donating blood. The Committee’s review examined the risk of infection being transmitted through blood and the ability to test donated blood for diseases before reaching their conclusion that new guidelines could safety been instituted.
Dr. Lorna Williamson, the Medical and Research Direct of NHS Blood and Transplant, said in a statement that “We welcome this review and its conclusions. It gives us an opportunity to broaden our donor acceptance on the basis of the latest scientific evidence. “
In 2010, a federal committee recommended maintaining the policy preventing gay men from donating blood in the U.S. Acccording to CNN, this decision provoked “disappointment and anger from gay activist groups.”
“The committee’s decision today not only leaves a discriminatory practice in place, it also puts lives at risk,” said Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, in a statement responding to the 2010 ruling. Meanwhile, some groups continue to use the ban to justify their demonization of gays.
Just a month ago, Bryan Fishcher, Director of Issues Analysis for the American Family Association (AFA), commented about the blood ban on the AFA website. “I think this is one of the reasons where our argument is infallible…is the danger that homosexual contact imposes to human health.
I gave blood here several weeks ago and I was asked three times…have you as a male ever had sex with another male one time since 1977. If I had answered yes, I would not have been able to give blood.
The risk to the nation’s blood supply is so severe that the risk that active homosexuals pose to the nation’s health, to the nation’s blood supply is so severe that if a man has had sex even one solitary time since 1977 – cannot donate blood. That, ladies and gentleman, tells you all you need to know.”
North Ireland is also considering the new policies adopted by England, Scotland, and Wales and the recent findings of the NHSBT. It is expected that North Ireland will make a decision on the guidelines of gay men donating blood soon.