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.”