By Rachael Grealish
Changes in blood donation rules means gay, bi-men and men who have sex with men in a long-term relationship will now be able to donate blood at any time.
From June 14 2021 men who have sex with men and who have had the same partner for three months or more will be able to give blood.
This is a change to the current rule which states every man, regardless of their sexual orientation, whether they’re in a stable relationship or whether they use protection such as condoms or pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), must wait three months after having oral or anal sex with another man before donating.
On NHS Give Blood the current reason for delay in ability to donate is down to two reasons; increased risk of infection and the gap between getting an infection and being able to detect it
The current regulation says ‘At a population level, men who have sex with men are at an increased risk of acquiring certain infections through sex’.
On blood.com it states: “We test every blood donation but there is a small possibility that very recent infections don’t get picked up but may still be passed on through blood.
“This is because there is a period of time (called a window period) between getting an infection and it showing up reliably on tests.
“If someone gives blood during the window period, their blood could contain an infection that could be passed on to the people who receive their blood.”
However, the change to the rules comes after the FAIR (For the Assessment of Individualised Risk) steering group’s recommendations and in line with the latest scientific evidence, blood donation will become more inclusive.
New guidance means eligibility to give blood based will solely on a persons own individual experiences, making the process fairer for everyone.
From 14 June 2021, the questions asked before blood donation will be:
- all donors will be asked if they have had a new sexual partner, or multiple partners, in the last three months
- Anyone who has had anal sex with a new partner or multiple partners in the last three months will not be able to give blood at that time, regardless of their gender or their partner’s gender.
This is to ensure for LGBT+ donors, patients and representatives to donation is a positive experience for them.
However, for transgender blood donors changes are yet to be made as they will still be asked about their assigned sex at birth every time they come to donate.
It states on blood.com: “We need to know sex assigned at birth because some blood products are safe to manufacture from the blood of donors assigned male at birth but not from those assigned female at birth.
“We recognise that many trans people may not consider this suitable, so we have plans by September to require the assigned sex at birth only once at registration and not at every session.”