HIV organisations call for review of blood donor criteria in National Blood Week

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The Terrence Higgins Trust has used National Blood Week to call for the Government to review the way blood donors are selected.

Tory MP Michael Fabricant last week renewed his call for the Government to lift a ban on gay and bi men giving blood if they have had sex with a man in the previous twelve months.

Mr Fabricant, the MP for Lichfield, made the call as it was announced that the number of people donating blood has fallen 40% in a decade.

National Blood Week runs in the UK from 8 – 14 June, and THT has called on the new government to “undertake a fresh review into blood donor selection criteria.”

Dr Shaun Griffin, Executive Director of External Affairs, Terrence Higgins’ Trust said: “It would seem that at a time when the NHS is facing a much publicised challenge because of a lack of blood donors, with figures plummeting 40 per cent in the last decade, a wider review into all the current restrictions may be timely help to address this.

“There has been no review into the lifetime ban for people who have previously been involved in sex work or who have previously injected drugs. It is inequitable and illogical for former sex workers and former injecting drug users to be treated differently from others.

“Therefore there should be a review of all the current restrictions including  the deferral period for men who have sex with men, so that we have the most appropriate restrictions based on the best available evidence. As with 2011 we will support any policy decisions that are based on the best available evidence.

“It may well be that some of the restrictions need to be retained, but we must ensure that it is still the appropriate restriction according to the evidence. A fresh, wider, review can guarantee this.”

THT said it supported the outcomes of the previous review, which meant men who have sex with men can donate blood after a 12-month deferral period.

The organisation said in a statement: “The current regulatory decisions and restrictions are based on profiling the risks associated with behaviours to ensure a safe blood supply for those receiving blood transfusions.

“Terrence Higgins Trust would like to see the same regulations for all – but retains the stance that this can only realistically be attained when risks of HIV and sexually transmitted infection (STI) transmission are reduced to the same level as that of most heterosexuals.”