Bad blood: gay men and blood donation
A few developed countries now accept blood donations from men who have had sex with men, but most don’t
- By: Richard Hurley
Most gay men in most Western countries are banned from donating blood for life. The screening test for donors on the website of the National Blood Service for England and North Wales, for example, asks, “Are you a man who has had oral or anal sex with another man (even if you used a condom)?” Answering yes results in an automatic no thank you.1
Men who have ever had sex with men are also excluded from donating blood in most other European countries and in the United States2 and Canada,3 but several developed countries have alternatives to permanent, blanket bans—for example, Spain, Australia, and New Zealand.
Outright bans have become increasingly controversial, and in February the gay rights group Stonewall changed its position after a two year review and called for the UK blood services to apply the same risk assessment to homosexuals as it applies to heterosexuals.4 Last November