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New rules on blood donation come into force

All groups deemed to have participated in risky sexual behaviours will be able to donate after waiting three months

Ingrid Torjesen

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Changes to blood donation rules in England have come into force which mean that some higher risk groups who previously had to wait 12 months after their last sexual activity before giving blood, or who were barred completely from donating, will now be able to give blood after only three months.

The new rules, which were announced in July on the recommendation of the Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs (SaBTO), will allow more people to donate blood.

Subject to meeting the other donation rules, men who have had sex with another man, commercial sex workers and people who have had sex with a partner at high risk of having a sexually transmitted infection will now be able to donate after three months have passed since the last sexual activity. Previously, commercial sex workers were permanently excluded from blood donation and the other groups had to wait until 12 months had passed before the last sexual activity before they could donate. The rules are now consistent for all groups that are deferred due to sexual behaviours.

Before donating blood, all donors must complete a Donor Health Check and have a private health screening where they may be asked confidential questions based on their completed form.

Dr Gail Miflin, medical and research director at NHS Blood and Transplant said: “The SaBTO review took into account the latest available medical and scientific evidence. This included more information about the risk of acquiring infections that can be passed on in blood, more evidence on how well donors comply with our guidelines and also more evidence that supports the reliability of the blood screening tests we use.

“We have one of the safest blood supplies in the world. Anyone may require a blood transfusion in the future and so it’s in all our interests to ensure that we work hard to keep blood safe for patients.”

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