The rules around donating blood have been relaxed so that more people will be able to give blood from early 2018 following a review by the Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs (SaBTO).
Current rules prevent people who engage in some sexual behaviours, such as a man who has had oral or anal sex with another man, from giving blood for 12 months after their last sexual activity. But, as a result of scientific advances and improved understanding of the tests used, the deferral period for these people will now be cut to three months.
The changes will also mean that sex workers, who have been barred from giving blood for life, will be able to donate blood after abstaining for three months.
SaBTO chair and consultant physician Professor James Neuberger said: ‘The UK now has a better understanding of infection transmission and is leading the way after this comprehensively researched and validated three-month deferral period.’
Dr Gail Miflin, medical and research director at NHS Blood and Transplant, said: ‘We have one of the safest blood supplies in the world. Anyone may require a blood transfusion in the future and so it’s in all our interests to ensure that we work hard to keep blood safe for patients.’