Lifetime ban on blood donations from men who have sex with men has been lifted

A man who last had sex with another man more than a year ago will now be eligible to give blood

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File photo of blood donation. Image: Cathal McNaughton / PA Archive/Press Association Images

The Irish Blood Transfusion Service (IBTS) has lifted the lifetime ban on blood donations from men who have sex with other men.

Under the new policy, a man who last had sex with another man more than 12 months ago will now be able to donate blood if he meets the other criteria.

The lifetime ban had been in place since the emergence of HIV in the 1980s.

The change follows detailed consideration of the issues involved over the past two years.

According to the IBTS, the ban will remain in place for men who have had sex with another man in the past 12 months.

Anyone who has been treated for a 'specific notifiable sexually transmitted infection' (such as chlamydia or genital herpes) will also be unable to give blood for five years. 

Health Minister Simon Harris said: “The IBTS provides a safe, reliable and robust blood service to the Irish health system and has the necessary programmes and procedures in place to protect both donors and recipients of blood and blood products.  

"Furthermore, the IBTS will continue to keep all deferral policies under active review in the light of scientific evidence, emerging infections and international experience."

Minister Harris also stressed the importance of blood donation generally, saying that "only 3% of the eligible population of Ireland are active blood donors".