Can gay people donate blood 2017
- Current situation
- Don’t you test every unit of blood?
- Reasoning for the restrictions
- Gay men to be allowed to give blood three months after sex
- How can I be removed from the blood donation call list?
- HIV-positive patients get organs from donors with HIV in UK transplant first
- Men who have sex with men (MSM)
- CDC HIV data in different populations
- Health History Screening
Blood donation restrictions for gay men and sex workers are to be relaxed in England and Scotland under a series of equalities reforms announced by the government. Gay men will be allowed to donate blood three months after sexual intercourse instead of a year. Sex workers, who were previously banned from donating, will be subject to the same three-month rule.
The reforms have been widely welcomed by LGBT campaigners. Ethan Spibey, founder of FreedomToDonate, which campaigns against blood donation restrictions for gay and bisexual men, said: “Today’s announcement from the government marks a world-leading blood donation policy for gay and bisexual men and the other groups previously restricted. I’m so proud that the work of FreedomToDonate and our supporters will help ensure more people than ever before are allowed to safely donate blood.
Don’t you test every unit of blood?
Advocates for change to MSM prohibitions point out that screening of donors should focus on sexual behavior as well as safe sex practices since many MSM may always have protected sex, be monogamous, or be in other low risk categories. Some groups in favor of lifting the restrictions support a waiting period after the blood is donated when the donor is considered to have had behavior considered higher risk, and before it is used, to match the blood bank's window of testing methods. While HIV is reliably detected in 10 to 14 days with RNA testing, older testing methods provide accuracy for only up to 98% of positive cases after three months.
Transgender people will also be able to choose their legal sex more easily as part of the equalities reforms announced by Justine Greening. “This government is committed to building an inclusive society that works for everyone, no matter what their gender or sexuality, and today we’re taking the next step forward,” the education and equalities secretary said.
Reasoning for the restrictions
Many LGBT organizations view the restrictions on donation as based on homophobia and not based on valid medical concern since donations are rigorously tested to rule out donors that are infected with known viruses such as HIV, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C. They state the deferrals are based on stereotypes. Proponents of the lifetime restriction defend it because of the asserted risk of false negative test results and because the MSM population in developed countries tends to have a higher prevalence of HIV/AIDS infection. The UK government advisory committee, SABTO, stated in 2013 that "the risk of transfusion of HIV infected blood would increase if MSM were allowed to donate blood". In July 2017 however, the UK government reduced the one year deferral window to three months, to take effect in the following months, resulting from SABTO's updated conclusions that "new testing systems were accurate and donors were good at complying with the rules". Furthermore, NHS Blood and Transplant are now investigating how possible it is for MSM, depending on degree of risk, to donate without even the three month deferral.
The men who have sex with men blood donor controversy is the dispute over prohibitions on donations of blood or tissue for organ transplants from men who have sex with men (MSM), a classification of men who engage (or have engaged in the past) in sex with other men, regardless of whether they identify themselves as bisexual, gay, or otherwise. Advocates for change to the prohibition is frequently addressed in terms of bisexual and gay men. Restrictions on donors are sometimes called "deferrals", since blood donors who are found ineligible may be found eligible at a later date. However, many deferrals are indefinite, meaning that these donations may not be accepted at any point in the future, thus constituting a de facto ban. The restrictions vary from country to country, and in many cases, men are deferred even though they always have protected sex or have not had sex with men for many years. The restrictions affect these men and, in some cases, any female sex partners. They do not otherwise affect other women, including women who have sex with women. The United States Food & Drug Administration (FDA) asserts that the one year deferral window is "supported by the best available scientific evidence".
The Red Cross understands that there is a difference between biological sex and gender. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidance, “Revised Recommendations for Reducing the Risk of Human Immunodeficiency Virus Transmission by Blood and Blood Products” states, “In the context of the donor history questionnaire, FDA recommends that male or female gender be taken to be self-identified and self-reported.”
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How can I be removed from the blood donation call list?
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Suzanna Hopwood, a member of the Stonewall trans advisory group, said: “Reform is one of the key priorities in our vision for removing the huge inequalities that trans people face in the UK. The current system is demeaning and broken. It’s vital that this reform removes the requirements for medical evidence and an intrusive interview panel, and finally allows all trans people to have their gender legally recognised through a simple administrative process. That’s what we’ll be calling for during this consultation, and I’m looking forward to seeing the law change soon after.”