Gay British Men Can Donate Blood, With One Catch...

...they have to have abstained from sex with other men for 10 years
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 10, 2011 3:47 PM CDT
In Britain, soon gay men will be allowed to donate blood as long as they have not had sex with another man in the past decade.   (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

(Newser) – In Britain, gay men will be allowed to donate blood for the first time, with just one catch: They can only donate if they haven’t had sex with another man in a decade. It was determined that the ban on gay men donating blood could be discriminatory, and the public health minister is expected to announce that it will be lifted within weeks. But homosexual men who have been sexually active within the past 10 years will still be barred from donating, the Telegraph reports.

While donated blood is screened for STDs including HIV, some infections are missed since there can be a lag before such illnesses present themselves. An advisory committee concluded that risk would go up only minimally if the current ban was replaced with a new rule: If gay men were prevented from donating until five years after having sex with another man, the risk would go up by less than 5%. By raising the period from five years to 10 years, that risk was halved. Currently, around 7% of sexually active gay men in Britain are believed to donate blood in spite of the ban.

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