In the past I have had a small number of residents write to be unhappy because they have been unable to give blood due to their sexuality. This has sometimes been incredibly disappointing, particularly if the individual had made use of the blood and transplant service themselves (or knows someone who did) and really wanted to give back.
FAIR - for the assessment of individualised risk, a group made up of UK Blood Services, Public Health England, LGBT+ charities, universities and the NHS came together last year with a plan to lead the change away from a stigmatised approach and towards a much more individualised risk assessment for donations.
Yes in the past there was a worry that certain sectors of society engaging in unprotected sexual activities may give rise to the possibility of blood-borne infections. However, times have changed, behaviour has changed and most importantly attitudes have changed. With all of us having a greater awareness of sexual health changes are now being made to the blood donation system.
FAIR's analysis of evidence concluded that changes should be made on the health-check questionnaire and those, of any sexuality, race or gender who have engaged in risky sexual behaviour should be considered for deferral while everybody else should move forward with the process as normal. It is only right that every individual is assessed for eligibility to ensure the safety of the donor and the patient.
The changes come into effect in Summer 2021 where every donor will be assessed on an individual basis, breaking the stigma and allowing more people than ever to give blood if they want.
It is great news, a much fairer system, maximising the potential for people of all backgrounds to give blood and give back to the NHS.
If you want to get signed up to the Blood and Transplant Service you can do so online at www.blood.co.uk or by calling 0300 123 23 23.