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article image1980 gay blood ban lifted in England, Scotland and Wales

By Nancy Houser     Sep 9, 2011 in Health
Since the 1980s, there has been a universal lifetime ban on accepting blood donations from bisexual and homosexual men in the United States and Europe. The United Kingdom is the first European country to lift this ban.
According to a recent Press Release from the UK Department of Health, the Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs (Sabto) recommended to the UK Health Ministers a change to the current “donor referral” for men who had sex with men after finishing an evidence-based review.  The decision was accepted by the Health Ministers of England, Wales and Scotland.
In Wired Update, the British government has reported that the gay blood ban will be lifted on November 7 of this year, with homosexual men able to donate blood if they have not had anal or oral sex with another man in the past year---as long as they could meet additional donor selection criteria.
The lift will be implented by the NHS Blood and Transplant in England and North Wales by the Blood Services of Scotland and Wales on the same day.
The review by the Advisory Committee includes:
The level of risk for infection transmitted in the donated blood
Improvements in the testing of donated blood
Attitudes toward compliance with donor selection criteria.
It was found by the Committee that no evidence supports the permanent exclusion of bisexual or gay men to donate blood.
The NHS Blood and Transplant’s Medical and Research Director, Dr. Lorna Williamson, said,
“The SaBTO review concluded that the safety of the blood supply would not be affected by the change and we would like to reassure patients receiving transfusions that the blood supply is as safe as it reasonably can be and amongst the safest in the world. There has been no documented transmission of a blood-borne virus in the UK since 2005, with no HIV transmission since 2002.” (Media Center)
At this time, Ireland has not yet lifted their ban of whether bisexual or homosexual men can donate blood.
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