Ban on gay men giving blood over Aids fears to be lifted next month

Gay men will be able to give blood when government restrictions are lifted later this year, the Department of Health has announced.

A lifetime ban on blood donation by men who had had sex with other men was put in place in the UK in the 1980s as a response to the spread of Aids and HIV.

But following a review by the Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs, men who have not had homosexual sex within a year will be able to donate if they meet certain other criteria.

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The recommendation has been accepted by health Ministers in England, Scotland and Wales, and the ban will be lifted on November 7.

Yesterday’s announcement was welcomed by human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, but he said it fell short of lifting the ban on gay men who always use condoms.

He said: “Although the new policy is a big improvement on the existing discriminatory rules, a 12-month ban is still excessive and unjustified.”

The activist who launched the first campaign against the lifetime ban on gay and bisexual blood donors in 1991 added: “Most gay and bisexual men do not have HIV and will never have HIV. If they always have safe sex with a condom, have only one partner and test HIV negative, their blood is safe to donate.

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“They can and should be allowed to help save lives by becoming donors.”

Public Health Minister Anne Milton said: “Blood donations are a lifeline, and many of us would not have loved ones with us today if it was not for the selfless act of others.

“Our blood service is carefully managed to maintain a safe and sufficient supply of blood for transfusions. Appropriate checks based on robust science must be in place to maintain this safety record and the committee’s recommendation reflects this.

“It is important that people comply with all donor selection criteria, which are in place to protect the health of both donors and transfusion recipients.”