A survey of gay and bisexual men has found that 77 per cent of respondents would donate blood if they were allowed to.
Currently, men who have ever had sex with another man are barred for life from donating blood due to the risk of HIV. It is estimated that one in 20 gay men in the UK are living with the virus and this figure is thought to be as high as one in eight in Brighton.
Dating website ManCentral.com claimed to have surveyed 3,667 members on the blood ban, with only 23 per cent saying they would not donate blood. Reasons given included a fear of needles and previous blood transfusions.
The website calculated that if 77 per cent of the estimated three million gay and bisexual men in the UK donated blood, this could potentially lead to 2.3 million extra annual donors. Last year, 1.6 million people donated blood up to three times.
Yusef Azad, director of policy and campaigns at National AIDS Trust, said: “Clearly this is an important issue for many gay and bisexual men. NAT has been working hard to engage the relevant authorities on this issue and secured a review of the current ban.
“We look forward to the results of this review later this year and are hopeful that an alternative to the life-long ban on men who have sex with men can be found.”
The government’s Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs (SaBTO) is currently undertaking a review of whether the comprehensive ban should remain. It is expected to report back this year.
Both the Scottish Blood Transfusion Service and the National Blood Service (England and Wales) bar gay and bisexual men from donating blood for life.
People who have injected drugs, prostitutes and those who have ever had syphilis, hepatitis B or hepatitis C are also excluded.
Last year, Sweden lifted the lifetime ban on gay and bisexual men donating blood. It announced on World AIDS Day that a 12-month ban would instead be implemented in March for anyone having “risky” sex, which includes gay sex.
A number of groups such as National AIDS Trust, Stonewall and the Anthony Nolan Trust have all previously supported the UK lifetime ban but are now against it, instead advising that time restrictions should be in place.