The United Kingdom will now allow gay men and six workers to donate blood, as long as three months have passed since the last time they had sexual intercourse, the National Health Service stated.
Previously, gay men had to wait one year since the last time they were sexually active to donate blood, while sex workers were completely prohibited, UPI reports. The changes are part of a shift in policies geared to be more inclusive towards the LGBT community and sex workers, especially since blood-testing procedures have vastly improved.
Justine Greening, Education Secretary, said,
This government is committed to building an inclusive society that works for everyone, no matter what their gender or sexuality and today we’re taking the next step forward.
She added, “We will build on the significant progress we have made over the past 50 years, tackling some of the historic prejudices that still persist in our laws and giving LGBT people a real say on the issues affecting them.”
According to Ethan Spibey, founder of FreedomToDonate, a non-profit organization that espouses the abolish of restrictions placed on gay and bisexual men to give blood, this change marks a step forward for gay rights in the country.
He said, “Today’s announcement from the government marks a world-leading blood donation policy for gay and bisexual men and the other groups previously restricted.” He also said, “I’m so proud that the work of FreedomToDonate and our supporters will help ensure more people than ever before are allowed to safely donate blood.”
The news comes right after Public Health England announced that there has been a significant drop in the number of HIV cases among gay men. From October 2015 to September 2016, there was a 32% decrease in new HIV cases among gay men, compared to the previous year.
Valerie Delpech, head of HIV surveillance for Public Health England announced, “What we are seeing is the first downturn of the HIV epidemic in gay men.”