The BBC is reporting that the lifetime ban on gay male blood donors will be lifted in England, Scotland and Wales, with Ireland coming to a decision soon. Ministers have agreed to let men who have not slept with another man in 12 months donate blood.
Restrictions on blood donations were implemented in the 1980s because of the AIDS epidemic, but recent medical evidence proves that the ban on homosexual blood can no longer be warranted.
The 12-month deferral period will be implemented to ensure that HIV and other infections can be detected before donation.
Professor Deirdre Kelly, a committee member for the Government’s Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs, has said that “the risk from a 12-month deferral was equivalent to permanent deferral, so the evidence does not support the maintenance of a permanent ban."
Ben Summerskill, chief executive of the gay rights group Stonewall, said this was a “step in the right direction.” But he pointed out that despite this change, there are still illogical flaws in the system: "A gay man in a monogamous relationship who has only had oral sex will still automatically be unable to give blood but a heterosexual man who has had multiple partners and not worn a condom will not be questioned about his behaviour, or even then, excluded."
He brings up a solid point, but I still give props to the UK for initiating a long-overdue change. Blood is in all of us to give. Will Canada follow suit?