LONDON — While controversy continues in the U.S. over blood donation policies for gay men, the British government is considering a study that would explore whether gay or bisexual men in monogamous, same-sex relationships should still have to wait 12 months after having sex to donate blood, Pink News reports.
In December, Conservative MP Michael Fabricant met with Public Health Minister Jane Ellison and members of the country’s Scientific Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs (SaBTO).
In exchanges with Fabricant, a National Health Service hematologist called the one-year-abstinence policy a “bizarre compromise” that is “prejudicial, illogical and reinforces a social stigma that has in other areas been reduced enormously.”
“At the meeting with the Minister and the SaBTO who advise the Blood Transfusion Service, it became clear that their decisions are based on understandable caution but lack authoritative data,” Fabricant told Pink News. “No research has been done on the incidence of HIV or Hepatitis infection amongst gay couples in a monogamous relationship. I am now calling on the Department of Health to commission this research as a matter of urgency. It is in the interests of recipients of blood as well as the need to prevent unwarranted discrimination, as there is a shortage of donors, that this be undertaken without further delay.”
He also said research currently underway, reports from which are expected in the spring, will be inadequate because they do not account for gay men in monograms relationships, Pink News reports.
Last month in the U.S., the FDA moved to a 12-month deferral system similar to those used in England, Wales and Scotland. Northern Ireland maintains a permanent ban on MSM blood donation.