Gay campaigners are set to use this year’s Pride London event to press the National Blood Service to accept blood from men who have engaged in medically risky sex.
Under current rules a man who has had anal intercourse with another man is not allowed to donate blood because such sexual behaviour is medically dangerous.
Weakening the safety rules would “result in a fivefold increase in the risk of HIV-infected blood entering the blood supply,” the National Blood Service (NBS) warns.
The NBS rules are supported by the Terrence Higgins Trust, a leading HIV and sexual health charity.
But Paul Birrell of Pride London wants the rules to change. While he accepts the NBS is “correct to ensure that there are adequate protections on donated blood,” he says the ban is “prejudiced”.
Explaining the ban, the NBS said: “The reason for this exclusion rests on specific sexual behaviour rather than the sexuality of the person wishing to donate.
“There is, therefore, no exclusion of gay men who have never had sex with a man, nor of women who have sex with women.”
The NBS added that the policy “would only be changed on the basis of clear evidence that patients would not be put at jeopardy. In addition, scientific advances in virus testing and inactivation are monitored”.
In November last year two student unions in the North East of England decided to ban the NBS from advertising in their buildings because it does not take blood from active homosexuals.
Critics said the decision placed more value on ‘gay rights’ than on the need for life-saving blood donations.
In the same month, an attempt to break the ban on homosexually active donors in Scotland was rejected by the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service.
Robert McDowall, a homosexual activist, was supported by homosexual lobby group Stonewall as he called on MSPs to lift the ban.