Gay men can now donate blood three months after having sex

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The donation deferral period for men who have sex with men will be reduced from 12 to three months. 

Gay and bisexual men in the UK will now be able to donate blood three months after having sex instead of 12, under a new Government policy.

The news was revealed today following a scientific review by the Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs (SaBTO).

Gay men were banned from giving blood at the height of the AIDS epidemic, but the decision was overturned in 2011 to allow them to donate 12 months after having sex.

Now gay and bisexual men – as well as sex workers – can donate more quickly, after new and improved NHS testing measures can establish whether someone has a virus such as HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, or syphilis within three months.

Related: Germany to officially pardon over 50,000 gay men who were convicted under Nazi-era law.

SNP MP Stewart McDonald commented: “These changes, based on the most up-to-date scientific evidence, will offer more people than ever before the opportunity to donate blood.”

“Many gay and bisexual men have felt that blood donation rules were outdated, and wrongly prevented them from donating – so it is a welcome step forward that the current 12 month donation deferral period for men who have sex with men will now be significantly reduced to just 3 months.”

Founder of the FreedomToDonate group and campaigner for reform, Ethan Spibey, said: “Today’s announcement from the Government marks a world-leading blood donation policy for gay and bisexual men and the other groups previously restricted.

“I’m so proud that the work of FreedomToDonate and our supporters will help ensure more people than ever before are allowed to safely donate blood.

“I began this campaign because I wanted to repay the donor who saved my granddad’s life after a major operation and this announcement means I’m closer than ever to doing that, with the invaluable help of our team of volunteers, and the charities and organisations FreedomToDonate represents.”

Education Secretary Justine Greening has also announced that transgender people will be able to choose their legal sex more easily.

She stated: “This Government is committed to building an inclusive society that works for everyone, no matter what their gender or sexuality and today we’re taking the next step forward.

“We will build on the significant progress we have made over the past 50 years, tackling some of the historic prejudices that still persist in our laws and giving LGBT people a real say on the issues affecting them.”

These changes will be implemented across England in early 2018.