Men in Scotland will no longer be automatically barred from donating blood if they have had sex with another man in the past three months.
The Scottish Government said a “fairer risk assessment” will instead be put in place to determine a person’s risk of passing on blood-borne infections.
The move – which is expected to take effect by next summer – will mean changes to the questions asked by the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service (SNBTS) in regards to a man’s recent sexual behaviour.
Currently, men are not able to donate blood in the UK if they have had sex with another man in the past three months, in line with previous expert advice.
The change follows recommendations by the group For the Assessment of Individualised Risk (FAIR), made up of leading medical and academic experts and LGBTI+ organisations.
The Scottish Government said the Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs (SaBTO) is satisfied the new recommendations will “continue to ensure blood safety”.
Public health minister Joe FitzPatrick said: “I welcome the recommendations of the FAIR group, which will enable a more individualised risk assessment approach to blood donor safety checks while continuing to ensure the safe supply of blood to patients.
“We are committed to equality and inclusion, and these changes will ensure a fairer and more up to date assessment of risk is applied to both men and women to identify whether donors may be at risk of a blood-borne virus infection.
“I am pleased to announce SNBTS expects to be able to implement these changes by summer 2021.
“They will be working to prepare their systems and staff for these changes and will also be working to raise awareness of the changes with existing and potential donors in advance.”
SNBTS said all information provided by the donors would be kept in confidence.
Craig Spalding, SNBTS director, added: “We are proud to have been involved in the work that has been undertaken to enable the Scottish Government to make an informed decision on reviewing and changing donor eligibility requirements.
“Donor eligibility based on personal risk assessments, rather than on broader demographic information such as sexuality, is a welcome change.
“We are grateful for all the donors of Scotland and are looking forward to welcoming a broader cross section of the population, in particular those men who have sex with men who will be able to donate blood under the new criteria.”
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