Words: Steve Brown
Peter Tatchell has slammed the NHS campaign to encourage more men to give blood in the new year.
Figures released by NHS Blood and Transplant found that 13, 719 women registered last January as blood donors compared to just 6, 092 men and now a new campaign is urging men to register despite gay men still being victimised.
As of September 2017, gay men must be celibate for three months before being allowed to give blood.
Tatchell has now slammed the NHS campaign and the “blanket restriction of gay and bisexual men”, according to the SW Londoner.
He said: “Part of the reason there are fewer male blood donors is the blanket restriction on gay and bisexual men.
“Under the current rules, all sexually active gay and bisexual men are treated as having the same risk factors, when many are no risk at all.
“Instead of having a universal three-month deferral period, the blood service should switch to individual assessment.
“This would allow no-risk gay and bisexual men to donate and thereby boost the blood supply.”
Liam Beattie, from the Terrence Higgins Trust, added: “We have campaigned on blood donation eligibility criteria for a number of years, to ensure it reflects the latest scientific understanding and technical advances in HIV testing.
“We had advocated for gay and bisexual men who only have oral sex to not be subject to a deferral period due to the very low risk of HIV, however this was disappointingly not taken forward.
“There has only been limited information about the new donation rules, the NHS must step up its communications about the changes in order to ensure those gay and bisexual men who are now eligible to donate blood can come forward to do so.
“We continue to push for the Government to have regular review of the blood donation criteria and exploring what an individual risk-based system would look like, because no one should be unnecessarily excluded from donating blood.”