UK: Ban on blood donations by gay men likely to be lifted

UK: The lifetime ban on blood donations by men who have sex with men is expected to be lifted in the UK.

The restrictions were put in place in the 1980s to prevent the risk of HIV contamination.

However, the latest medical evidence presented to a government panel argued that such a ban could no longer be justified.

Several countries have relaxed the rules, basing them on the time since the last homosexual encounter.

The National Blood Service screens all donations for HIV and other infections. However, there is a “window period” after infection during which it is impossible to detect the virus.

Most new HIV infections acquired in the UK are from men who have sex with men.

The lifetime ban has been questioned both on equality and medical grounds, in the light of developments such as improved blood screening tests which have reduced the size of the “window period” and reduced the risk of contamination.

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The Terrence Higgins Trust, the UK’s largest HIV and sexual health charity, says the arguments must be about public health, not discrimination.

It states: “We believe any decision on the safety of the blood supply must be based on evidence and not on political lobbying or framing of it as purely an equalities issue.”

- What do you think? Should the ban be lifted? Or have you been unable to give blood because of the ban? Post your comments below.