Changes to the rules for eligibility for blood donation in the UK have come into force, allowing greater flexibility for those who can to donate.
From 28 November, men who have had specific sexual activity with another man, commercial sex workers and people who have sex with partners in high-risk groups are now able to donate after three months have passed since the last sexual activity.
Until now, commercial sex workers were permanently excluded from blood donation and the other groups had to wait until 12 months had passed before they could donate. These new changes mean that there are consistent rules for all groups that are deferred due to sexual behaviours, according to NHS Blood and Transplant.
This change was recommended recently by the Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs, following a review.
Dr Gail Miflin, of NHS Blood and Transplant said: "The review took into account the latest available medical and scientific evidence. This included more information about the risk of acquiring infections that can be passed on in blood, more evidence on how well donors comply with our guidelines and also more evidence that supports the reliability of the blood screening tests we use."
Liam Beattie of the Terrence Higgins Trust commented: "We are pleased that the decision from July has been swiftly implemented, and that the new rules in place will enable more people to give blood, while maintaining the safety of the blood supply.
“We hope this paves the way for more progress as further evidence becomes available, and we're now urging the government to continue to regularly review the deferral periods in line with the latest evidence. It will now be vital for those who are now eligible to donate blood to be made aware of these changes."
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