Lifetime Ban on Gay/Bisexual Men Donating Blood will be Lifted




Lifetime ban on gay/bisexual men donating blood will be lifted from November 7th in UK (except Northern Ireland which will discuss later) after a new review found no evidence to support the ban, and gay or bisexual men can be blood donors if they haven’t had sex with another man in the past 12 months (Telegraph/BBC News). This policy was first adopted in the 1980s to prevent the risk of HIV/AIDS to spread in the blood supply. However the time has changed, and HIV test has become more accurate and scientific research and knowledge have been advanced since 80’s. The policy has also been criticised as discriminatory, reflecting prejudice and stigma against homosexuals. It’s true that the regulation cannot be justified when young people who binge-drink and sleep with anyone without protection can donate blood, and gay/bisexual men can’t just because of their sexuality.

Other countries including Australia, Japan, and Sweden have the same 12-month condition and South Africa has introduced a six-month gap, though this kind of ban still remains in Canada and the US. Prostitutes or former prostitutes and anyone who has ever injected drugs are still permanently banned to give blood in UK, and other at-risk groups, such as people who have been sexually active in high-risk countries such as Africa, are banned from donating for a year (click here for details of blood donation criteria).

I didn’t know this policy existed at all until I saw the news. I myself can’t also donate blood in my home country Japan, where anybody who has spent a total of 30+ days in the UK between 1980 and 1996 or a total of 6+months between 1997 and 2004 (see details here), due to the epidemic of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in the past. Strict regulations may be necessary for some cases to protect recipients’ health, and also we ourselves should be responsible to be aware of if you are entitled or not before you give blood.

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