5 thoughts on “Gay men can now give blood in UK

  1. I wish the Beeb had not cast this as a restriction on gay men donating blood; it’s not based on sexual orientation. There are bisexual and certain straight men to whom it would apply, and certain gay men to who whom it would not apply.

    I thought Deirdre Kelly (one of the UK’s most distinguished hepatologists, apparently) did a good job of explaining the situation, and justifying the retention of a 12-month restriction, in the linked clip from Radio 5. The bisexual man on the show who was arguing with Dr. Kelly couldn’t really manage more than to claim some unspecified unfairness about his not being able to inject his blood instantly into the national blood supply upon demand.

    I’m currently under a lifetime donation ban myself, at least in the US (too many years spent in CJD-exposed countries). Even though I’m suspicious about the cost-benefit analysis of that ban, I would never misrepresent my eligibility as a donor. I’m just glad I was able to donate a lot of blood over the years before becoming ineligible.

  2. While what Nemo said is correct, it’s also worth asking the question of who is lying and who is actually putting the blood supply at ‘risk’. It has been a long time since I’ve looked at the empirical literature here, though there’s quite a lot of it. If I recall, the studies show that the sorts of blood-transmitted diseases that they’re looking to avoid are far more likely, statistically, to be carried by straight and bisexual men who have sex with men but who are in the closet. I’d also quite well imagine that those groups are also the most likely to lie and donate blood anyway. So I doubt that the prevention policy really does as much preventing as it is supposed to do.

  3. Of course, that last bit was pure speculation. Men who are in the closet might avoid donating blood altogether to avoid having to put an answer to that particular question on paper.

  4. Interestingly, in Dr. Kelly’s comments (if I recall correctly) she said that one of the things the government looked at in revising the eligibility criteria was data about compliance with screening rules. I don’t know what the data were.

    The last estimates I saw were that only about 5% of eligible donors ever give blood, much less donate regularly. If you’re eligible, go out there and donate!

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