Blood donation rules for gay and bisexual men have been drastically relaxed in Northern Ireland, with the “waiting time” for gay or bisexual men asked to abstain from sex being lowered before being eligible to donate.
The previous policy required that gay and bisexual men donate blood a full year after their last sexual activity which has now been lowered to three months.
The health minister, Robin Swann, said his decision was based on “evidence regarding the safety of donated blood”.
Specifically, he stated: “Any one of us may require a blood transfusion in the future and we need to be confident that the blood we receive is safe.”
Every blood donation was tested for HIV and a number of other organisms said the health minister.
“Not even the most advanced tests are 100% reliable, so it is vitally important for every donor to comply with any deferral rules that apply to them,” he added.
According to the ‘BBC’, the change will take effect from June 1. With this new rule, Northern Ireland now comes in line with the rest of the United Kingdom which adopted the three-month limit back in 2017.
LGBT+ support group The Rainbow Project welcomed the move on Wednesday saying: “No longer can LGBT people in Northern Ireland be expected to endure lesser treatment than our counterparts in other regions.”
The Northern Ireland Blood Transfusion Service also supported the change, stating: “The safety of our donors and staff, as always, is our utmost priority.”
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