London: Britain on Thursday said it was lifting a
ban on gay men giving blood providing they have had not had
homosexual intercourse within a year.
A lifetime ban on blood donation by men who have had sex
with another man was introduced in Britain in the 1980s as a
response to the spread of AIDS and HIV.
But a review by a panel of leading experts and patient
groups found it could no longer support their permanent
However, men who have had anal or oral sex with another
man in the past 12 months, with or without a condom, will
still be barred from donating blood, the Department of Health
The experts considered the risk of infection being
transmitted through blood, the willingness of potential donors
to comply with the selection criteria and improvements in
testing donated blood.
The change brings the criteria for men who have had sex
with men into line with other groups who are deferred from
giving blood for 12 months due to infection risks associated
with sexual behaviour.
These include women who have slept with a man who has had
sex with another man, people who have slept with prostitutes
and those who have had intercourse with anyone who has
injected themselves with drugs.
The announcement was welcomed by human rights campaigner
Peter Tatchell, but he said it fell short of lifting the ban
on gay men who always use condoms.
He said: "Although the new policy is a big improvement on
the existing discriminatory rules, a 12-month ban is still
excessive and unjustified."
Tatchell, who launched the first campaign against the
lifetime ban in 1991, added: "Most gay and bisexual men do not
have HIV and will never have HIV.
"If they always have safe sex with a condom, have only
one partner and test HIV negative, their blood is safe to
donate. They can and should be allowed to help save lives by