Gay and Bi men in the UK can now donate blood without any restriction!
The United Kingdom’s health experts have decided to remove the 3 month abstinence requirement for men who have sex with other men (MSM), according to the Guardian. Though, this removal is limited to only a certain type of man. Specifically, men who are in long-term relationships with another man. Plus, they will have to wait until next summer for the policy change to go through, according to NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT).
Once this policy change goes into effect, risk assessments will be taken by individual donors. Each donor, who has been partnered for three months or more without any known exposure to risky sexual behavior, will take a questionnaire. This questionnaire will then assess if risky behavior, such as having sex while under the influence of drugs, was actually enacted.
According to USA Today, this announcement came after the Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs, advised the U.K. health departments to consider the changes. This recommendation was due the positive results from a report by the For Assessment of Individual Risk.
This announcement has received praise and celebration from LGBTQ health advocates. Ethan Spibey, the founder of FreedomToDonate, applauded the change.
“Almost six years ago, our group of volunteers set out to rewrite the rules that had perpetuated inequality and prevented thousands of potentially safe donors from donating for too long,” he said in a statement. “Today, we welcome a pioneering new policy and are immensely proud that more people than ever will be able to fairly give the life-saving gift of blood.”
“This landmark change to blood donation is safe and it will allow many more people, who have previously been excluded by donor selection criteria, to take the opportunity to help save lives,” Britain’s health secretary, Matt Hancock, said in another statement.
Michael Brady, the medical director for Terrence Higgins Trust, also welcomed the change. Though, Brady noted that “there is certainly more work to do.”
He remarked, “We will continue to work to ensure that our blood donation service is inclusive, evidence based and both maximises the numbers who can donate while ensuring our blood supply is safe.”