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Gay and bisexual men can donate blood sooner under new rules in the North

The Republic still has strict rules in place.

CHANGES TO BLOOD donation rules in the North now mean that gay and bisexual men can donate blood so long as they have been in a same-sex relationship with one partner for more than three months.

Previously, men who had been in a same-sex relationship had to wait for a year after their last sexual activity before donating blood.

SDLP Health Spokesperson Cara Hunter has encouraged gay and bisexual men who are eligible to consider donating blood.

In the Republic, there is a lengthier wait for men in same-sex relationships before they are allowed to give blood.  

The Irish Blood Transfusion Service (IBTS) formerly had a lifelong deferral for men who have sex with men (MSM), but this was changed to a one-year deferral in the last five years. 

This means that a man whose last sexual contact with another man was more than 12 months ago will be eligible to donate if he meets the other donor selection criteria.

In July of this year, it emerged that a blood donation criteria review board had been established. 

Fianna Fáil senator Fiona O’Loughlin said the review will look at the impact of lifting the life ban on blood donation by gay and bisexual men.

“This group will assess the impact, if any, of the changes in the blood donation criteria in 2017. Prior to these changes, there was a lifetime ban on gay and bisexual men donating blood.
“Currently gay and bisexual men can only donate blood in Ireland if they have refrained from sexual activity for 12 months, criteria that does not need to be met by heterosexual men.”

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