A woman squeezes a ball to keep blood flowing while donating blood on the stage of the closed MAD (Moulin a Danse) night club during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Lausanne, Switzerland, December 7, 2020. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

THE NEUTRAL ZONE

The U.K. will loosen restrictions on gay and bisexual men donating blood, a landmark policy shift that restricts based on behavior and not sexual orientation. The change will take effect this summer. 

For the Assessment of Individualised Risk, a steering group, concluded that donors who have had the same sexual partner in the last three months and who don’t have a sexually transmitted disease should be eligible to give blood. The U.K. agreed: “This landmark change to blood donation is safe and it will allow many more people, who have previously been excluded by donor selection criteria, to take the opportunity to help save lives,” Britain’s health secretary, Matt Hancock, said in a statement on Monday.

The ban excludes men who have had sex with men in the past three months, a policy enacted in 1983 because of concerns about HIV. But this change won’t affect the safety of the blood supply, U.K. officials said, and activists who have campaigned for years to lift the restrictions celebrated the announcement. “This means the U.K. has one of the world’s most progressive blood donation policies, and more people than ever will be able to safely donate for those who need it,” said Ethan Spibey, founder of FreedomToDonate.

The Food and Drug Administration changed its policies back in November when it reduced the deferral time for men who have had sex with other men from 12 months to three, although that policy is still more restrictive than the U.K’s. Part of the reason for both policy changes is the need for blood donations during the pandemic. 

MEDIA PERSPECTIVE

This section includes an aggregation of articles showing different viewpoints on the topic.

FAIR recommendations – FAIR – 12/14/2020
Can donor selection policy move from a population-based donor selection policy to one based on a more individualised risk assessment? Conclusions from the For the Assessment of Individualised Risk (FAIR) group.

Landmark change to blood donation criteria – GOV.UK – 12/14/2020
Men who have sex with men in a long-term relationship will be able to donate blood in England following changes to blood donation criteria announced by Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock today. 

A Longstanding Ban On Gay And Bisexual Men Donating Blood Has Been Dropped In The U.K. – Forbes – 12/13/2020
Rules preventing gay and bisexual men from donating blood in the U.K. — similar to ones just adopted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration — are set to be relaxed next summer as the British government implements a new set of policies focusing on individualized risk and behavior rather than blanket bans.

What are the blood donation rules globally for gay and bisexual men? – Reuters – 12/14/2020
As blood supplies have come under pressure due to the coronavirus pandemic, calls have grown for governments to replace abstinence periods for men who have sex with men to donate blood with individual risk-based assessments.

INFLUENCER PERSPECTIVE

This section includes an aggregation of tweets showing different viewpoints on the topic.

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