Students encouraged to give blood because gays and bisexuals can’t

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The National Union of Students (NUS UK) today criticised a national newspaper article, which blamed student campaigns for a shortage of blood donors in the UK.

The Mail on Sunday article “Crisis as students boycott blood donor sessions in protest over ban on gays” attempted to link low blood donations with a student led campaign highlighting the current National Blood Service (NBS) policy of not allowing any gay or bisexual men to donate blood.

In fact, one of the chief aims of this campaign is to encourage more students to donate blood because gay and bisexual men can’t. Warwick University Students’ Union, where it was wrongly reported that protestors intimidated nurses, run a high profile advertising campaign to encourage students to donate blood. Some students were even turned away because there were not enough blood service staff on hand to deal with the numbers attending the centre.

Kat Louis, NUS Women’s Place LGBT Officer, said: “NUS has always emphatically encouraged our members to donate blood – because gay and bisexual men can’t. The campaign aims to highlight that many of our members who willing and healthy are prevented from donating blood because of this policy, which exacerbates the current shortage of donors.”

Students’ Unions taking part in the campaign support the notion that everyone should be able to give blood if they practise safer sex, as it is not only gay and bisexual men who are at risk from HIV and AIDS.

Fellow NUS LGBT Officer James-J Walsh commented: “The NUS LGBT campaign believes that the National Blood Service policy also perpetuates the myth of HIV and AIDS as ‘gay diseases’. In fact, recent statistics show that HIV is becoming more prevalent in the heterosexual community.

The UK’s Blood Service Policy is at complete odds with the guidelines that are outlined by the United Nations, that serves to tackle this type of discrimination, and removes this antiquated perception about our community. We feel a fairer policy, which would in turn lead to more donors, would be to give everyone who has safe sex the opportunity to give blood.”

The NUS LGBT campaign has maintained a positive dialogue with the National Blood Service UK to highlight the views of students on this issue, most recently meeting with their representatives at the end of last year.