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United Kingdom to lift lifetime ban on gay, bisexual men donating blood

Friday, September 9, 2011
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The United Kingdom will become the latest country to lift the ban on blood donations from gay and bisexual men, relaxing a policy that officials said does not improve the safety of the blood supply.

Ministers in England, Scotland and Wales have agreed to let men who have not had sex with another man in the past 12 months to donate, beginning in November. Northern Ireland will follow suit soon.

The restrictions were put in place in the 1980s to prevent the risk of HIV contamination.

However, the latest medical evidence presented to a government panel argued the ban could no longer be justified.

Ministers in the three countries accepted the argument and said they would be relaxing the rules. Northern Ireland is expected to make a decision soon.

The move follows a report by the government’s Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs, which said the lifetime ban was no longer justifiable.

Other countries, including Australia, Japan, South Africa, Sweden and New Zealand, also allow gay men to donate blood under similar restrictions.

Canada and the United States still prohibit gay men from donating blood.

The bans were imposed in the 1980′s, amidst the early days of the HIV/AIDS crisis.

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