As a result of a two year policy review, Stonewall is putting pressure on the National Blood Service to lift the discriminatory blanket lifetime ban on gay men donating blood.
'In blood donation, safety is paramount,' said Stonewall Chief Executive Ben Summerskill, 'And it's for this very reason that Stonewall now urges the National Blood Service to change its current restrictions to reflect risk behaviours. As it stands, a heterosexual person who has consistently put themselves at risk of exposure to HIV is not given the same lifetime ban as that of a gay man, who has had protected sex just once.'
'People wanting to donate blood should be asked the same questions - irrespective of their sexual orientation - that accurately and fairly assess their level of risk of infection. The current system fails to do this. Instead, it stigmatises gay men by perpetuating the offensive myth that they cannot be trusted in matters of sexual health.'
'In the course of our policy review, Stonewall has been perplexed by the buck-passing in the NHS on this matter. We'll be urging ministers to encourage senior health professionals to take this matter seriously and to fall in line with current practices in Spain, Italy, Australia and New Zealand - none of whom now have a lifetime blanket ban on gay men.'
'We're also mindful that the Anthony Nolan Trust has recently lifted their own ban on bone marrow donations by gay men.'
I called the Blood Donor Centre in response to a request on BBC news to give blood to be told that as a gay man I am still banned from giving blood. It was explained to me that gay men are still considered an at-risk group because of the possibility of failure to detect the early stages of infection. I said that I find this explanation unsatisfactory because there are other groups of people who are also likely to have undetectable infection in their blood but who are still allowed to donate. I was told that the policy is constantly under review. I have written to the National Donor Services Manager to ask for an overturn of the ban. Can 't wait to receive her response.
Eoghainn, 01 December 2010
Having tried to give blood to the NHS a few years ago and failed, I was encouraged again to give blood by Friends. I was already a stage two donor for the Antony Nolan Trust so I though what the heck, I will try again. So I go to The National Blood service wed site and start the " Cab I give Blood" Questionnaire, I answer the Yes or No questions until No 12 which asks " Are you a man who has had oral or anal sex with another man (even if you used a condom) I answer Yes. To which the reply is "Thank you for your time". I am a man who is in a monogamous relationship, and Civil Partnership for 3 years. I called the NBS the people were polite and slightly embarrassed, I was informed a medical expert will be calling me back within 5 days to explain why I cant give blood. I am looking forward to this phone call as I'm curious as to how this expert can explain how Women who perform the same sex act as a gay man can give blood (I suspect most woman have participated once in this sex act within our society) and my blood is rejected.
Simon Martin, 17 August 2009
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