A leading sexual health charity has said it is working with the National Blood Service on the current ban on men who have had sex with men donating blood.
Terrence Higgins Trust has been accused of colluding with “stereotyped and prejudiced assumptions” that bar gay men from giving blood by campaigner Peter Tatchell.
The NBS claims that it targets sexual behaviour and not sexual orientation, but there is a lifetime ban on donations from men who have had sex with men.
There is increasing pressure for the ban to be lifted in favour of more sophisticated models.
Mr Tatchell said that THT and gay men’s health charity GMFA are “dependant on funding and goodwill from establishment bodies, they have joined the establishment.
“Unwilling to challenge a blanket ban that is irrational and ignorant, they collude with the NBS’s stereotyped and prejudiced assumptions about gay and bisexual men.”
Lisa Power, head of policy for THT, told PinkNews.co.uk:
“Perhaps Peter should stop hurling pointless insults and start considering why an organisation that always makes decisions on evidence rather than wishful thinking is willing to consider a policy which appears discriminatory.
“THT’s view is that while we could certainly do with a comprehensive review of the UK restrictions on blood donations (which affect many more people besides gay men) in the light of recent advances in knowledge, we also need to understand that some groups of people are at more overall risk of HIV transmission than others.
“Until we have the technology and the funds to be able to ensure that every donation is a safe donation, some forms of group restrictions are inevitable. The question is not whether restrictions should exist but whether we have the right ones in place.
“THT is working with the National Blood Service to ask those questions, based on evidence and we will abide by the results. Any regulations – and any changes to them – need to be based on facts, not political rhetoric.”
Ms Power revealed that THT will be meeting with the NBS in January “to move this examination of the evidence forward.”