More black people will be able to give blood after the government announced it would remove the “discriminatory” security question from their donor forms.
Donors preparing to give blood will no longer be asked if they have recently had sex with someone who has previously been sexually active in areas where HIV is endemic. It covers most of sub-Saharan Africa.
Currently, if a person answers “yes,” their donation must be postponed until three months have passed since their last sexual contact with that partner. This, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has acknowledged, could deter black Africans and others in long-term relationships from donating blood.
The change has been approved by scientific advisors, who have deemed it safe and will review it 12 months after it is implemented. However, other questions targeting behavior by individuals, such as recent travel to high-HIV areas, remain.
The health secretary, Sajid Javid, said in a statement: “This is another progressive step, focusing on individual behaviour, rather than blanket deferrals, and lowering the limits for people to donate blood.
“This will make it especially easy for black donors to donate blood, ultimately saving lives.”
DHSC’s move was welcomed by the National AIDS Trust, which said the question being removed was “actively discriminatory”. Its chief executive, Deborah Gould, said: “The science is clear that this is unnecessary and does nothing to improve safety. Instead, it actively prevents much-needed donors from coming forward to give blood.”
The department said it hopes removing barriers to donation will boost blood stores of the rare Ro subtype, which is more likely to be found among people of black African, Caribbean or mixed heritage, and It is important to help people with sickle cell disease. .
Over the summer, the government also changed the rules for blood donation by gay and bisexual men. Instead of asking a donor if they are men who have sex with men, everyone will be questioned about their sex lives. Anyone who has had the same sexual partner for three months can now donate blood.
Credit: www.independent.co.uk /