to your health

Britain Ready to Admit: No Good to Reason to Ban Gay Blood Donors

That utterly retro policy that prevents gay men from donating blood? Britain is actually considering joining New Zealand, Spain, and Italy to overturn it. How come? Because as it turns out, the risk of letting men who have sex with men put their blood into a bank is effectively nil.

The scare tactic used to defend the ban surrounds a heightened infection rate among gay men. So, the thinking goes, keeping gay blood out of circulation, by default, cuts down on the possibility of infecting transfusion recipients. Except all blood is screened for HIV before it’s used — so why keep out healthy, willing gay donors?

There’s no reason: “While all blood donations are screened for HIV (human immunodeficiency virus), hepatitis B and C and syphilis before they can be used, very recent infections may not be detected. Health officials have argued that the only way to protect patients against this ‘window’ of early infections is through careful donor selection. Since 1985 only two patients have been infected with HIV through blood transfusions.”

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  • scott ny'er

    read the last thread on this with interest. And as one poster said,

    “Even men who have had unprotected sex with prostitutes can donate again if they haven’t done it in a year and test negative. It makes much more sense to block people based on risky behavior, rather than sexual orientation.”

    I think the ban should be based on risky behavior and testing. If you’ve been tested and haven’t had sex in the last 3 months (or whatever the window period is now… I think it might be a month for the newer tests) and are neg on all accounts (HIV, STIs) then you can give. Otherwise you’re banned.

    It is discriminatory towards the gay peeps. I understand why but times have changed since 1977 and heteros are just as promiscuous or more so (while some gays are not) and need to be screened accordingly.

  • hyhybt

    Right. If the purpose is truly to block *new* infections, there’s no sense in looking at history more than a year back at most. You don’t turn up with a new case of HIV from sex you had 30 years ago!

  • Yuki

    I still think it’d be discriminatory if it was determined on having sex. Someone could be in a monogamous relationship, but would be barred from giving blood simply because they had sex; how would we determine “risky behavior”? Bareback with multiple partners instead of in a monogamous relationship? All bareback? All sex in general?

  • scott ny'er

    yes. if you had sex within the window period, you can’t give blood, as stupid as that sounds. if we want the blood supply as safe as possible, then only peeps who have abstained from sex for the window period and tested neg after said window period should be able to give blood.

    you can say you’re monogamous but you can’t track your partner every day and it’s possible they could be cheating on you. it happens.

  • jason

    If you’re a sleazy, promiscuous gay guy, you open yourself up to infections. Simple as that. The same applies to sleazy, promiscuous straight guys, straight women, lesbians etc etc. One could justify discriminating against all these groups on the basis of their promiscuity but one can’t justify simply discriminating against those under the “gay guy” category.

  • Mike Barton

    @Scott NE’er: “You can say you’re monogamous but you can’t track your partner every day and it’s possible they could be cheating on you. it happens.”

    The same can be said of married women. They don’t where their husbands are 24/7, whether or not they’re being monogamous or what gender their husband’s potential sexual partners may be. Should they also be prohibited from giving blood of they’ve had sex with their husband within the specified window?

  • scott ny'er


    yes. i believe so. i wouldn’t exclude either sex. Does it makes sense? And does it seem fair?

    It’s a pretty strict policy but if you really want to have a safe blood supply, that’s the way it should be. Now I’m not taking into consideration the # of people who give, their backgrounds, etc… because I’m sure the blood policy people look at those factors as well.

    It’s all conjecture really because I’m not involved in that blood thing at all.

  • Michael vdB

    Well, there would be a very low blood supply if anyone that had sex within a “window” would be banned from giving blood. That simple. Where the thinking is also flawed is this does not take into account other risky behaviours…such as injection drug use and the health risks associated with that.

  • Jason

    In New Zealand gay men can donate blood if they haven’t had gay sex in the last five years. There’s no practical difference to the lifetime ban.

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