UK Ban on Gay Blood Donation Lifted

As I mentioned in September, a lifetime ban on blood donation by gay men, put in place during the AIDS crisis 25 years ago has been lifted (with restrictions) in England, Scotland, and Wales, The Herald reports:

Blood…following a review by the Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs (Sabto), men who have not had homosexual sex within a year will be able to donate if they meet certain other criteria. The move will be implemented in England, Scotland and Wales.

Men who have had anal or oral sex with another man in the past 12 months, with or without a condom, will still not be eligible to donate blood, the DoH said. They said this was to reduce the risk of infections being missed by testing and then being passed on to a patient.

Sabto's advisory panel, comprising leading experts and patient groups, carried out its review based on the latest available evidence and found it could no longer support the permanent exclusion of men who have had sex with men.


  1. jason says

    This is still a highly discriminatory and prejudicial policy of the UK Blood Bank. Identical behavior is treated differently depending on the identity of the person.

    For instance, a healthy gay man who engages in anal sex with his healthy partner still won’t be able to give blood. A straight guy who engages in anal sex with females will be able to give as much blood as he wishes. The female who allows men to have anal sex with her will also be able to give as much blood as she wants.

    No matter which way Sabto tries to parse this, it’s clear that Sabto is prolonging and reinforcing prejudice towards gay men. Sabto appears to be lacking in credibility as an organization and deserves to be treated with disdain.

    Overall, the Brits have failed us on this. The Blood Bank in the UK is reinforcing – not diminishing – prejudice towards gay men.

  2. Robert in NYC says

    Jason you’re wrong. Heterosexuals who have multiple partners and who engage in unprotected sex, both married (yes adultery is common) and single are subject to the same scrutiny and always have been since the HIV/AIDS crisis began be it vaginal or anal sex.

  3. Mychyl says

    Call it what you like, it’s a step in the right direction. It’s still more permissive than the current US legislation, where a straight man can be barred from donating blood for seeming effeminate.

  4. roger says

    ummm, jason sweetie.. compare the hiv and std statistics w/ heteros… stalk differences. if you want rights, stop having UNPROTECTED SEX….. and fyi, i you have unprotected sex as a straight person you cant give blood either.. silly silly presumptions on your part.

  5. rafi says

    I see this doing more harm than good.

    This is still an extremely restrictive policy. Gay men will still be unable to donate blood until they manage to go an entire year without any kind of sexual activity, be it protected or not. That’s sort of ridiculous.

    And since this is coming in a relatively liberal country and in 2011, it’ll be used for a years by anti-gay folks as evidence of the perils of a gay “lifestyle”.

  6. Mary says

    I don’t know all the medical details of this issue, but I’d say err on the side of caution where health is concerned. Not just for the sake of those who will receive the donated blood, but also for the gay community itself. We don’t need homophobes scoring points because some HIV positive men donated blood and infected others unknowingly. Is the blood donation issue really important to the gay community? If you’re becoming increasily accepted why risk backlashes? I understand militancy on job discrimination, public safety, or even marriage, but not on the issue of donating blood. Just trying to give some friendly advice – even though I’ll probably catch hell for it from Towleroad posters!

  7. frank says

    HIV is aquired immune deficiency virus. It knows no gender and no SEXUAL ORIENTATION, no age, no race, It, like we should, DOES NOT DESCRIMINATE AND ACCEPTS all …

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