Northern Ireland will end a lifetime ban on men who have sex with men from donating blood, Health Minister Michelle O’Neil said. The new policy is set to go into full effect on September 1. The outdated policy was once the norm in all of the UK, but has since been lifted in England, Wales, and Scotland in 2011, leaving Northern Ireland still using the antiquated practice.
Gay and bisexual men, though, will still have to withdraw from sex with another man for at least a year before donating, which is being called “one-year deferral system.”
“The safety of donated blood depends on two things: donor selection and the testing of blood. Every blood donation is tested for HIV and a number of other organisms. 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,” the health minister said.
Last year the United States overturned its policy that prevented gay and lesbian men from donating blood if sex was in the cards in a person’s last 30 years. Now, the US also uses a ‘one-year deferral’ system that was introduced last year. [BBC]