Blood donation in UK to be made more inclusive
The safety of those donating and those receiving blood and blood products remains the government’s highest priority. (iStock Image)
PEOPLE who want to donate blood, particularly Black African donors, will be able to do so more easily by the end of 2021.
The UK government on Monday (11) outlined plans to remove the question on sexual activity, asked in the donor safety check.
Currently, prospective donors are asked if they have recently had sex with a partner who may ever have been sexually active in an area where HIV is endemic, which includes most of sub-Saharan Africa. If they have, the donor will be deferred for three months after the last sexual contact with that partner.
This can mean black African donors and other potential donors in long-term relationships have been unable to donate blood.
People who are black African, black Caribbean and of black mixed ethnicity are more likely to have the rare blood sub-group, such as Ro, that many black sickle cell patients need. However, this change will provide more opportunities for people to donate for the ongoing need for rarer blood types and help improve and save lives in the UK. Removing the question will help to improve inclusivity and equity for Black African, and other, donors.
The safety of those donating and those receiving blood and blood products remains the government’s highest priority.
Removing this question from the donor safety questionnaire will not compromise the safety of blood supply in the UK. This step has been taken following research conducted by the FAIR steering group and supported by the Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs (SaBTO), who both agreed that the question can safely be removed.
Other questions remain on the donor form to ensure individual, high risk behaviours, including recent travel to countries where HIV is endemic, are picked up and those donors are deferred from donation.
Health secretary, Sajid Javid, said: “This is another progressive step forward, focusing on individual behaviours, rather than blanket deferrals, and reducing limitations for people to donate blood.
“This will make it easier for black donors in particular to donate blood, ultimately saving lives.
“We are creating a fairer system for blood donation. And as we recover from this pandemic, we are committed to levelling up society, which includes improving access to services for everyone.”