Currently there is a ban on gay men from the UK on donating blood unless they have abstained from sex for 12 months beforehand. However, campaigners are looking at getting this rule amended.
The campaigners believe this rule to be outdated and not consistent with modern HIV screening technology.
Recently the MP for Glasgow South, Stewart McDonald, chaired an evidence session in parliament on the issue, and the APPG (All-Party Parliamentary Group) has launched an investigation to review the current rules.
It is estimated that only 4% of people in the UK donate blood, and that blood is at a shortage. This is leading MPs to think of new ways to increase the amount of blood that is being donated.
However, the MPs investigating the matter are keen to point out safety is the most important factor in all of this, and the rules will only be changed if it is proven that it can be done safely. McDonald has said:
“There is a body of evidence which shows the 12-month deferral period for Men who have Sex with Men (MSM) donating blood could be reduced to 3 months and we want to explore all restrictions on donation to ensure as many people as possible are able to do this life-saving act.
“We’re looking forward to taking further evidence later this year.”
But he has also said:
“The APPG will look at how we can increase the blood stock while always maintaining its safety and integrity.”
A string of discussions are taking place, at each one they will compile and discuss the evidence presented before producing a report on how much blood is safe to donate, and at what timescale.
There is also a large element of equality behind the campaign. As the law currently stands it bases the timescales around sexuality, rather than sexual practices. At the moment if a homosexual couple have protected sex they are not able to donate for 12 months, whereas a heterosexual couple have unprotected sex they perfectly able to give blood immediately.
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