Blood donation ban lifted for men who have had sex with men

Irish Blood Transfusion Service applies 12-month deferral period for men who have had sex with men

 Minister for Health Simon Harris said the IBTS would continue to keep all deferral policies under review in the light of scientific evidence, emerging infections and international experience

Minister for Health Simon Harris said the IBTS would continue to keep all deferral policies under review in the light of scientific evidence, emerging infections and international experience

 

Men who had sex with men (MSM) more than a year ago are permitted to donate blood from Monday under a change to the rules operated by the Irish Blood Transfusion Service (IBTS).

The new rule replaces a previous lifetime ban on blood donations by MSM. It applies so long as the person meets the other blood donor selection criteria.

It has also introduced an additional deferral from blood donation of those with a history of specific notifiable sexually transmitted infections for five years from the completion of treatment of the infection.

Welcoming the changes, Minister for Health Simon Harris said the IBTS would continue to keep all deferral policies under active review in the light of scientific evidence, emerging infections and international experience.

The relaxation of donation policies for MSM follows a two-year consideration by the IBTS, and was approved by the Minister last June.

Mr Harris said the change was supported by the most current scientific evidence available, and brought into Ireland into line with similar policies in the UK, Canada and elsewhere.

He also highlighted the importance of donating blood, and urged all those eligible to consider donation.

Donors

The IBTS tests all prospective blood donors for a number of diseases, including HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C.

The risk of transmitted infection of blood is at its highest when individuals donate blood during a window period of five to 15 days following exposure to a virus. There is no biological measure to detect infection during this window period and as a consequence the IBTS temporarily or permanently defer on average one in 10 people from giving blood.