British Government Easing Restriction On Gay Men Donating Blood

The British government is expected to revise restrictions on men who have sex with men donating blood.

An advisory committee has recommended that the current requirement of a year without sex should be reduced to three months.

In 1981, at the dawn of the AIDS crisis in the UK, a lifetime ban on gay/bi men donating blood was instituted. It remained in place in most of the UK until 2011, when the 12-month abstinence policy was instituted. The new recommendation comes as better testing techniques can now detect HIV, hepatitis or syphilis contracted within three months.

Researchers In Genetic Surgery At Temple University Develop Technique To Eliminate HIV In Human Cells
William Thomas Cain/Getty Images

Freedom to Donate’s Ethan Spibey, part of the advisory committee, called the decision “fantastic.”

“Three months would be a world-leading policy,” Spibey told the Independent. “Eventually we want a blood donation policy that is fair and tailored to each donor, but it’s all about moving towards that model.” Spibey called for a policy “that recognizes what is high risk without applying it to entire homogeneous groups.”

At the same time, the Scottish government is debating whether to lift all restrictions on blood donation from trans women and men who have sex with men.

Dan Avery is a writer-editor who focuses on culture, breaking news and LGBT rights. His work has appeared in Newsweek, The New York Times, Time Out New York, The Advocate and elsewhere.