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Statement: blood donation rules still include exclusionary criteria

Monday, June 14, 2021

Deborah Gold, Chief Executive of National AIDS Trust, said:

“We welcome the changes made today (Monday 14 June) meaning more gay and bisexual men will be able to donate blood safely because of eligibility now being based on a more individualised assessment of risk. We’re delighted the changes have been brought in based on FAIR steering group recommendations, in which we participated. We’ve long campaigned for a safe, fair, and science-based eligibility process so more people can give blood.

“This is however only a first step in achieving a more inclusive approach and we now want to see other exclusionary criteria urgently reviewed to ensure donors are being asked questions that successfully identify higher risk, without unnecessarily excluding people or groups. [1]

“Disappointingly, there’s still a 3-month restriction on donating blood for anyone in England who has slept with someone from parts of the world where HIV and AIDS are ‘very common’. This criteria is vague, perpetuates misleading stereotypes around HIV and also disproportionately impacts on Black people in the UK, particularly those of Black African backgrounds. Although this has now been removed in Scotland and Wales – and the Government's own independent expert advisors say this criteria is unnecessary and recommended amending it – the Department of Health and Social Care in England has decided not to remove this unfair criteria.

“As we mark World Blood Donor Day we call on the Government to reconsider its decision and allow more people to donate much-needed blood. If it is unwilling to do so, it should provide clear reasons why it has decided not to, against current scientific advice.” [2]


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Notes to editors

  1. More information on the changes to the rules, how they came about, and what they mean can be read in Kat Smithson’s Q&A posted in December 2020 when the Government first announced it would be making these changes.
  2. Alongside One Voice Network and Terrence Higgins Trust, we have written to Matt Hancock MP to ask the DHSC to urgently review these discriminatory criteria. You can read the letter here

About National AIDS Trust

We’re the UK’s HIV rights charity. We work to stop HIV from standing in the way of health, dignity and equality, and to end new HIV transmissions. Our expertise, research and advocacy secure lasting change to the lives of people living with and at risk of HIV.

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