Nurses back lifting of gay blood donation ban

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The Royal College of Nursing says it will lobby for the ban on gay and bisexual men donating blood to be lifted.

At the RCN’s annual congress in Liverpool yesterday, 87 per cent of delegates voted for an end to the ban.

Currently, there is a lifetime ban on any man who has had sex with another male.

Last weekend, reports said the government would announce that the blanket ban would be replaced with a ten-year deferral period, which would allow men who had not had gay sex for ten years to donate blood.

HIV charities said they were confused by the reports, as a review of the policy has not yet been completed.

Yesterday’s motion, from the Greater Glasgow branch of the RCN, read: “That this meeting of RCN congress urges council to lobby to remove the exclusion on gay and bisexual men donating blood.”

Theresa Fyffe, RCN Scotland director, said: “Our members have voted to lobby for the ban on gay and bisexual men donating blood to be lifted because it was felt that the current blanket discrimination was unjustified.

“They felt it was important to look at the risk assessment of individual behaviours, not just those of gay and bisexual men. As always patient safety continues to remain a top priority and we do not want to see this compromised in any way.”

Greg Usrey, an RCN member and public health nurse from the Greater Glasgow branch, said:“Obviously we do not want to put the public at risk in any way, but rather, by addressing this blanket ban there is the potential to make use of the untapped resource that is gay and bisexual men.

“People who have engaged in “risky” sexual behaviour can donate blood 12 months after giving up this lifestyle, yet gay men in monogamous relationships are barred for life. I am pleased that RCN members have voted to lobby on this important issue and look forward to it progressing.”