These gay students can now donate blood after years of being denied

‘Giving blood should be equal for everyone regardless of sexuality’

After years of campaigning, gay men in relationships will now be able to donate blood.

Males who have sex with one man in a long term relationship of three months or more can now donate blood, as announced by the NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT).

This is a huge change as previously all men had to abstain from having sex with other men for three months before donating blood. The restriction did not apply to heterosexuals, who were eligible to donate blood even if they have had unprotected sex with multiple partners.

It was also declared that donors will no longer be asked to declare if they have had sex with another man, making the criteria for blood donation gender neutral and more inclusive. All donors will complete the same donor health check regardless of gender or sexuality.

The changes mean these students are now able to donate blood, after years of being denied.

‘We are no higher risk than other sexual groups’

King’s student Cui Wu has been with his boyfriend for over a year now, and they plan on donating blood together as soon as the changes are implemented. He is a first year BSc Nutrition and Dietitics student. He has lived in Singapore, the USA and is now residing in London.

“There still needs to be work towards discrimination against LGBT community in healthcare, but this is a fantastic stride in the right direction,” he says.

Speaking from his own experience of living in different countries, Cui added: “The UK handles sexual minorities in healthcare much better compared to other countries.”

And yet experts still say the UK has a long way to go in making sure the new system works as promised. Dr Michael Brady, medical director at Terrence Higgins Trust, a sexual health charity, said: “There is certainly more work to do and we will continue to work to ensure that our blood donation service is inclusive, evidence based and both maximises the numbers who can donate while ensuring our blood supply is safe.”

‘It’s a positive move as it will allow for more people to receive blood donation which will help save a lot of lives’

Harry Mayes, a second year BA History student at King’s, has been with his boyfriend for six months and says that he was pleased by this news and notes that this a huge step towards equality of gender and sexuality.

However, he also expresses frustration that “the waiting period should be reduced especially for those who have already had HIV tests conducted, as heterosexuals do not face that issue”.

Harry says that he has no concrete plans to donate blood for the upcoming summer but would like to in the future when he is ready to do so. “I would like to as I could help to save someone’s life, and if the situation was reversed I would greatly appreciate someone doing that for me,” he says.

‘Giving blood should be equal for everyone regardless of sexuality’

Jay Allan is a recent graduate from the University of Northumbria who has been with his boyfriend for two years. He says he is extremely excited to donate blood together with his sister and his boyfriend as soon as possible.

Whilst this is a good step forward, Jay feels that this is celebrating a “small victory” and that these changes should have been enforced a long time ago. He also notes that this excludes a community of people who are not in a strictly monogamous relationship therefore it is not a fully inclusive and fair system. “The regulations for giving blood should have been equal for everyone in the first place”, he says.

To register as a blood donor, you can visit this website or call 0300 123 23 23.

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