Health officials in Britain announced
on Sunday that gay men will soon be allowed to donate blood for the
There's a caveat, however. Only gay
men who have not been sexuality active with another man for 10 years
will be allowed to donate blood. That is, the ban will remain in
effect for sexually active gay men.
to UK's The Telegraph, MP Anne Milton, England's public
health minister, said the policy was being revised because an
outright ban could breach equality laws.
“A complete ban is unfair and
discriminatory but we need to protect public health, so the 10-year
rule is what is being considered,” a source told the paper.
Gay men are considered a high-risk
group for contracting HIV. Other groups include sex workers and
intravenous drug users.
Last year, the Food & Drug
Administration (FDA) considered lifting its ban, but decided against
such a change.
Massachusetts Senator John Kerry, a
Democrat, led the fight to reverse the ban.
“This lingering policy is responsible
for turning away thousands of healthy donors from blood clinics
across the country, not because they have engaged in highly risky
behavior, but because they are gay,” Kerry said in testimony before
a Health & Human Services committee.
“This is blood that could save
lives,” he added.
Supporters of the change noted that the
FDA only excludes people who have engaged in heterosexual sexual
activity with a person known to have HIV, the virus that causes AIDS,
for one year but gay men are banned for life.