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Equality Network welcomes new fairer blood donation rules for gay and bisexual men.

Equality Network welcomes new fairer blood donation rules for gay and bisexual men.

Today we welcome the news that blood donation rules in Scotland, and the rest of the UK, will be changed this summer to remove the discriminatory three month ban on donations from men who have had sex with men.

Scott Cuthbertson, Development Manager said, “We’re delighted with the news that new fairer blood donation rules are being implemented based on an individualised assessment, this is something we have been calling for, for 15 years.”

For the first time since the early ‘80s gay and bisexual men will no longer be judged for who they are in blood donation criteria. Outdated rules which reinforced stigma, and were inconsistent with safer sex messages, will be consigned to the dustbin of history.”

The Equality Network has been campaigning on the issue for many years and we look forward to feeding into the new Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service (SNBTS) risk assessment in advance of implementation in the summer of 2021.

The changes will also be implemented in England, Wales and NI.

This is what the Scottish Government have released:

Currently, men are not able to donate blood in the UK if they have had sex with another man in the past three months, in line with previous expert advice.

New recommendations, which the Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs (SaBTO) is satisfied will continue to ensure blood safety, mean men will no longer be automatically barred from giving blood if they have had sex with another man in the last three months. Instead, everyone will be given a more individual risk assessment, which will involve all potential donors being asked a few additional questions about their sexual behaviours. 

Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service (SNBTS) will ensure there is information available for donors to explain the reasons for the changes and to give reassurance that all information provided by donors is kept strictly in confidence.

The changes follow recommendations by the specialist steering group for Assessment of Individualised Risk (FAIR) made up of leading medical and academic experts and LGBTI+ groups. 

Public Health Minister Joe FitzPatrick said:

“I welcome the recommendations of the FAIR group, which will enable a more individualised risk assessment approach to blood donor safety checks while continuing to ensure the safe supply of blood to patients.

“We are committed to equality and inclusion, and these changes will ensure a fairer and more up to date assessment of risk is applied to both men and women to identify whether donors may be at risk of a blood-borne virus infection.

“I am pleased to announce SNBTS expects to be able to implement these changes by summer 2021. They will be working to prepare their systems and staff for these changes and will also be working to raise awareness of the changes with existing and potential donors in advance.”

SNBTS Director Craig Spalding said:

“We are proud to have been involved in the work that has been undertaken to enable the Scottish Government to make an informed decision on reviewing and changing donor eligibility requirements.

“Donor eligibility based on personal risk assessments, rather than on broader demographic information such as sexuality, is a welcome change.

“We are grateful for all the donors of Scotland and are looking forward to welcoming a broader cross section of the population, in particular those men who have sex with men who will be able to donate blood under the new criteria.”

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