Blood donation, who are we really discriminating against?

In my last blog I wrote about the complex matter of blood donation rules and gay men. I looked at the question of whether the rules are discriminatory – men cannot currently give blood if they have had sex with another man in the previous 12 months. The conclusion was that they are not discriminatory if they are a reasonable and evidence-based attempt to protect the safety of the blood supply. Is the 12 month deferral for gay men reasonable and evidence-based? We suspect it may no longer be so and the rules need to be reviewed to ensure no discrimination is taking place.

Blood donation and gay men – the wrong focus?

It’s National Blood Week and this year the call for blood donors is more urgent than ever with the announcement that the number of donors has fallen by 40% over the last 10 years. With such a crisis in donation why is it that there remains a restriction on any man giving blood who has had sex with another man in the previous 12 months? This week sees many calling for an end to such restrictions as unnecessary and discriminatory – as well as counter-productive given the shortage of donors.

NAT's Position on Current Restrictions on Blood Donation

Publication date

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Deborah Jack, Chief Executive of NAT (National AIDS Trust), comments:

"NAT is not convinced by the justification put forward for the current lifetime ban for men who have ever had sex with another man and anyone who has ever injected drugs or ever received payment in money or drugs for sex. We are campaigning for the National Blood Service to review the restrictions. 

HIV charities welcome the lifting of lifetime ban on gay men donating blood.

Publication date

Thursday, September 8, 2011
The Government announced today that the rules on gay men* donating blood will change from a lifetime ban to a 12 month deferral period.  This decision follows a review of the current policies around exclusion and deferral from blood donation by the Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs (SaBTO).