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Only four in ten new blood donors in England are men and everyone is making the exact same point

Josh Milton January 10, 2020
Blood samples of people who took an HIV test

Blood samples. (Artyom Geodakyan/Getty)

Amid a troubling scarcity of donors, four out of 10 new blood donors in England are men, leading LGBT+ activists to let out a strained sigh considering the gay men are still banned from donating.

According to the BBC, just 41 per cent of new blood donors were men.

The sparse supply has threatened vital transfusions and treatments, with the broadcaster discussing how male blood is required for a woman who needs male blood, which has higher iron levels, to treat her condition.

In a ban that has forced some advocacy groups to set up ‘illegal blood banks’ specifically for queer men, campaigners have called for the three-month deferral period set by the government to be lifted, saying this policy is unnecessary, discriminatory and a waste of safe blood.

Blood donations are dropping from non-queer men, but if only there was a solution?

The National Health Service has seen a 25 per cent drop in men donating blood since 2014 and requires 135,000 new donors each year to maintain blood levels.

Blood stocks also tend to fall between December and January, according to statistics.

Moreover, donations should be considered on an individual basis, critics said, slamming current deferral times as serving to ferment prejudice against those living with HIV as well as the wider queer community.

Many campaigners have also flagged the ‘window period’ of donated blood, where simple tests can swiftly identify whether blood contains the virus.

The government set the three month deferral based on advice from a Department of Health and Social Care expert committee called the Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs.

Currently the blood services of England, Scotland and Wales have implemented these guidelines.

‘Perhaps if we were to allow gay and bisexual men to donate there may be an increase in male blood donors…’

Such a ban has impacted blood levels, with the BBC‘s reporting on Jo Daniels, a 39-year-old who has the autoimmune disease Sjogren’s syndrome, which attacks her tear glands and leaves her with painful ulcers on her corneas.

She uses a daily eye serum, made from male blood, to sustain her sight, the outlet reported. People with active uteruses produce antibodies during pregnancy which makes their blood unviable for numerous specialist transfusions and blood-based products.

As a result, medical have urged more men to donate. But LGBT+ Twitter all had one reaction to this:

More: blood donation, gay blood ban, NHS

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