Peter Tatchell: Gay blood ban should be cut to 3 months

Peter Tatchell has called for the ban on gay men giving blood to be relaxed to three months.

At present in England, Wales and Scotland, gay and bisexual men are banned from donating blood for 12 months after having sex.

The campaigner made a call on World AIDS Day today for the length of the ban to be reduced to three months.

He said:  “The current ban… is medically unjustified discrimination based on sexual orientation. It is premised on a generalisation about men who have sex with men.

“Bizarrely, the current policy of the blood service in England makes no distinction between sex with a condom and sex without one. Any oral or anal sex between men in the previous 12 months – even with a condom – is grounds for refusing a donor.

“The government should cut the basic exclusion period to three months, dependent on the risk factors associated with each individual donor. These risk factors include not only HIV but also other sexually-transmitted infections (STI).

“The only gay and bisexual donors who should be excluded are those who have engaged in risky, unprotected sexual behaviour and who’s HIV, hepatitis and other STI status cannot be accurately determined because of the delay between the date of infection and the date when the bacteria or virus and antibodies manifest and become detectable in their blood.

“For men who have not participated in unsafe sex, a three month deferral after sex would be sufficient, providing they have been vaccinated against hepatitis B at least six months before giving blood and they test negative at the time of blood donation.”

Last month, the Peter Tatchell Foundation withdrew a holiday to Morocco from a charity auction – after it was pointed out homosexuality is criminalised.

In Northern Ireland, gay and bisexual men remain banned for life from giving blood.