The landmark charge will increase the eligible number of blood donors in the UK.
Men who have sex with men in a long-term relationship will now be able to donate blood in England following changes to blood donation criteria.
Historically men who had oral or anal sex with another man in the last 3 months, even in long-term relationships, were excluded from donating blood in the UK.
Following recommendations from the Advisory Committee for the Safety of Blood Tissues and Organs (SaBTO), donors who have had one sexual partner and who have been with their sexual partner for more than 3 months, will be eligible to donate regardless of their gender, the gender of their partner, or the type of sex they have.
The ‘For Assessment of Individualised Risk’ (FAIR) steering group, a collaboration of UK blood services and LGBT charities led by NHSBT and established in 2019, conducted extensive research into the risks associated with more individualised blood donor selection policy.
Their report, published today, proposed a move away from a blanket 3-month deferral for men who have had sex with men, and instead to identifying a wider range of ‘highest risk behaviours’ which applies to all donors, regardless of sexuality.
No impact on safety.
This change will be implemented by Summer 2021 and will have no impact on the safety of blood donated in the UK
Su Brailsford, Associate Medical Director at NHS Blood and Transplant and chair of FAIR said:”We are proud to have the safest blood supply in the world and I’m pleased to have concluded that these new changes to donor selection will keep blood just as safe.
“This is just the beginning. We will keep collaborating with LGBT representatives, patients and donors so when we make these changes our process for getting accurate donor information about sexual behaviours is inclusive and done well.
Ethan Spibey, the founder of the FreedomToDonate campaign, added; “This means the UK has one of the world’s most progressive blood donation policies and more people than ever will be able to safely donate for those who need it. The work of the FAIR steering group shows that simply being a MSM is not a good enough reason to exclude someone from donating blood.
We’ve made great progress and look forward to continuing to work with the government and others to ensure as many people who could safely donate blood can do so.”