Department of Health & Social Care press release: Landmark change to blood donation criteria

Men who have sex with men in a long-term relationship will be able to donate blood in England following changes to blood donation criteria announced by Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock today. The move, which will also be implemented in each of the devolved administrations, sees the UK become one of the first countries in the world to adopt a more individualised risk-based approach to donor selection criteria.

Following recommendations from the Advisory Committee for the Safety of Blood Tissues and Organs (SaBTO), donors who have had one sexual partner and who have been with their sexual partner for more than 3 months, will be eligible to donate regardless of their gender, the gender of their partner, or the type of sex they have.

The ‘For Assessment of Individualised Risk’ (FAIR) steering group, a collaboration of UK blood services and LGBT charities led by NHSBT and established in 2019, conducted extensive research into the risks associated with more individualised blood donor selection policy. Their report, published today, proposed a move away from a blanket 3-month deferral for men who have had sex with men, and instead to identifying a wider range of ‘highest risk behaviours’ which applies to all donors, regardless of sexuality.

This change will be implemented by Summer 2021.

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