Gay men share videos giving blood to celebrate 'historic' law change
Gay and bisexual men share photos of themselves giving blood to celebrate ‘historic’ law change on donation rules, with one saying: ‘I’ve waited 25 years to do this’
- Donors will no longer be asked if they are a man who has sex with another man
- Instead they will be asked about their recent sexual behavior, under new rules
- Rules apply to donors in England, Scotland Wales, NHS Blood and Transport said
- LGBT campaigners have described new rules as a ‘historic’ change for the NHS
- Youth worker Keith Bishop tweeted: ‘I drove for an hour to get there this afternoon. I’d waited 25 years and I couldn’t wait another day!’
Gay and bisexual men who are finally allowed to donate blood, platelets and plasma after ‘historic’ changes in the law have been sharing photos of their first donations.
Long campaigned for changes to eligibility rules came into effect on World Blood Donor Day yesterday – and many of those allowed to donate for the first time headed straight to give a pint of their own blood.
The rule changes mean anyone who has had the same sexual partner for the last three months will now be eligible to donate, meaning more gay and bisexual men will be able to donate.
For many who have wanted to donate blood in the past but have been turned away, it proved an emotional moment.
Youth worker Keith Bishop tweeted: ‘I drove for an hour to get there this afternoon. I’d waited 25 years and I couldn’t wait another day!’
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Ethan Spibey, one of the campaigners behind the Freedom to Donate campaign, shared this image of himself donating blood yesterday, saying he did it to repay the donor who had saved the life of his grandfather
‘Twenty years after I first tried to give blood, I am now allowed’ Twitter user Richard Angell shared a snap of him holding his blood donation. As of yesterday, donors will no longer be asked if they are a man who has sex with another man
Give Blood NHS shared a video on TikTok to mark the more inclusive rule change, which means any individual who attends to give blood, regardless of gender, will be asked if they have had sex and, if so, about recent sexual behaviours
Comedian Joe Lycett called the law change ‘cool’ in a supportive tweet.
Previously, donors in England, Scotland and Wales were asked if they were a man who has had sex with another man.
Now, any individual who attends to give blood regardless of gender will be asked if they have had sex and, if so, about recent sexual behaviours.
Ethan Spibey, one of the campaigners behind the Freedom to Donate campaign, which pushed to change the law shared a photo of himself giving blood in memory of his late grandfather.
He wrote: ‘All I could think of was my Grandad. I made him a promise I’d never, ever stop until I repaid the donor who saved his life.
‘New, fairer and more inclusive rules on blood donation introduced today thanks to tireless campaigning from @FreedomToDonate & others mean I finally did it.’
@RichardAngell shared a photo of himself holding a packet of blood he’d donated, writing: ’20 years after I first tried to #giveblood, I am now allowed.
‘Today I did what I consider to be the health equivalent of jury service: I donated a pint of blood, and hopefully saved a life.’
@waynetbrown added: ‘After being turned away in September, I’m delighted to be finally able to donate on Wednesday!’
However, some were frustrated that it had taken so long for the laws to change.
@peter151120011 wrote: ‘Nahh, I think I’ll pass on donating. It’s never been suitable in the past, and just because the rules change, all of a sudden it is good enough. It’s the same blood. No difference. What makes it good enough now? Are numbers down? Record lows?’
Ella Poppitt, chief nurse for blood donation at NHS Blood and Transplant, said: ‘Patient safety is at the heart of everything we do. This change is about switching around how we assess the risk of exposure to a sexual infection, so it is more tailored to the individual.
‘We screen all donations for evidence of significant infections, which goes hand-in-hand with donor selection to maintain the safety of blood sent to hospitals.
‘All donors will now be asked about sexual behaviours which might have increased their risk of infection, particularly recently acquired infections. This means some donors might not be eligible on the day but may be in the future.’
The changes to the donor safety check form will affect blood, plasma and platelet donors but the process of giving blood will not change.
Eligibility will be based on individual circumstances surrounding health, travel and sexual behaviours shown to be at a higher risk of sexual infection, NHS Blood and Transplant said.
The new eligibility rules came into effect on World Blood Donor Day on Monday and mean that donors in England, Scotland and Wales will no longer be asked if they are a man who has had sex with another man, NHS Blood and Transplant said
Under the changes people can donate if they have had the same sexual partner for the last three months, or if they have a new sexual partner with whom they have not had anal sex and there is no known recent exposure to a sexually transmitted infection (STI) or recent use of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) or post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP).
Anyone who has had anal sex with a new partner or with multiple partners in the last three months will be not be able to give blood but may be eligible in the future, it said.
The changes were welcomed by charities including the National Aids Trust, Stonewall and Terrence Higgins Trust.
Robbie de Santos, director of communications and external affairs for Stonewall, 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.’
But the Terrence Higgins Trust said that the Government had kept a ‘discriminatory restriction’ in England which will affect black communities’ ability to give blood.
The restriction relates to a three-month deferral period for anyone who has a ‘partner who has, or you think may have been, sexually active in parts of the world where HIV/Aids is very common’ and references ‘most countries in Africa’, the charity added.
Its chief executive Ian Green said: ‘It’s great news that far more gay and bisexual men can safely donate blood from today.
‘But the excitement of that announcement is significantly dampened by another discriminatory question being retained by Government in the blood donation process in England, which presents a significant barrier to black donors in particular giving blood.
‘This is despite it being removed in both Scotland and Wales, and the blood service actively encouraging black communities to donate plasma and blood due to shortages.’
The changes follow a review into individualised criteria by the FAIR (For the Assessment of Individualised Risk) steering group led by NHS Blood and Transplant.
To become a blood donor, register and book an appointment by calling 0300 123 2323, downloading the GiveBloodNHS app, or visiting www.blood.co.uk.
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