Regulations banning the donation of blood by men who have ever had gay sex will be lifted from today.
The Department of Health announced the changes in September, implementing a one-year deferral period instead, so that men who have had gay sex in the last 12 months may still not donate blood. The change comes into force in England, Wales and Scotland this week. Northern Ireland has not yet decided whether it will relax the rules, prompting an accusation of homophobia against its health minister.
The Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs (Sabto) carried out a review and found it could no longer support the permanent exclusion of men who have had sex with men. Dr Lorna Williamson, NHS Blood and Transplant’s medical and research director, said: “Our priority as a blood service is to provide a safe and sufficient supply of blood for patients. This change gives us an opportunity to broaden our donor acceptance on the basis of the latest scientific evidence.”