Northern Ireland To Change Donating Policy

The Northern Ireland Department of Health is working towards making it so that gay men have shorter deferral periods for when they can donate.

The ultimate decision on the matter will be up to the Stormont minister.

Scientific evidence it’s what helped change the minds of the Westminster government.

Before, men who engage in sex with other men had to wait twelve months to donate blood. Now, they only will have to wait three months.

The new rules will only go into effect in England and Scotland.
Since January, Northern Ireland has been without a health minister.

Last June, Michelle O’Nelle, who was the health minister at the time in Northern Ireland, chose the 12-month rule. Gay men used to could not donate ever in Northern Ireland.

Edwin Poots, and Jim Wells, both previous health ministers, kept the ban up.

Northern Ireland Looking To Change Blood Donating Policy For Gay Men

An Investigation done by the BBC found that there was no medical proof to support an eternal ban.

The decision to allow gay men to donate after three months will give people the chance to donate without affecting the safety of others.

The changes to the policy came from the Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues, and Organs. They concluded that new testing systems set in place are very accurate. Also, that donors have been doing well with complying with the new rules.

In the UK, every drop of blood that goes for donation has to pass necessary tests for HIV, Hepatitis B, and C, as well as some other viruses.

The Department of Health in Stormont said in a statement that they were fully aware of SaBTO’s recommendations.

A spokesman for the department stated that they would look at the matter on a scientific basis.

John O’Doherty, who is part of the Rainbow Project group, told reporters that he would like to see Northern Ireland take the same steps as England and Scotland.