Historic change to blood donation rules means that more gay and bisexual men can give blood

Virgin Radio

14 Jun 2021, 17:02

Today (14th June) is World Blood Donor Day, which aims to raise awareness of the importance of voluntary blood donation to healthcare systems across the world. But this year, the day has even more significance, especially to many men who have sex with men, who have previously struggled to donate blood.

New rules which came in this morning in England, Scotland and Wales mean that eligibility is now based on individual behaviours, rather than grouping potential donors together to determine risk. Previously, men who had sex with men had to wait three months since their last sexual activity (even in a monogamous relationship) before donating, and before 2017 this was even more restrictive, with a twelve-month abstention period. Before 2011, men who had sex with men were not allowed to give blood at all.

Now, though, potential blood donors will not be asked whether they are a man who has had sex with another man. Instead, anyone will be able to donate blood if they have been with the same sexual partner for longer than three months, or if they have not had anal sex with a new partner in the same period.

The move to change the strict rules, which came about in the aftermath of the AIDS crisis, comes as a success to many campaigners, including Robbie de Santos, who is Director of Communications and External Affairs for LGBTQ+ charity Stonewall. He said: “We welcome today’s historic change, which will help ensure more gay and bi men can donate blood and represents an important step towards a donation selection policy entirely based on an individualised assessment of risk. We want to see a blood donation system that allows the greatest number of people to donate safely and we will continue to work with Government to build on this progress and ensure that more people, including LGBT+ people, can donate blood safely in the future.”

The change, which comes just in time for Pride Month, will enable even more people to donate blood, which is incredibly important considering the impact of the pandemic on supplies. You can sign up to donate here.

For more LGBTQ+ stories, and to celebrate Pride Month, check out Virgin Radio Pride; our brand new pop-up station for the summer. Listen online at virginradio.co.uk/pride, on the Virgin Radio app, DAB digital radio in London or ask your smart speaker to "Play Virgin Radio Pride".