Gay men to be able to donate blood by next February

Health Minister Chris Fearne confirmed that gay people would be able to donate blood in six months time with the introduction of new equipment which screens blood donations 

Gay people will be allowed to donate blood by next February, as health authorities invest in new equipment to screen blood donations and reduce the risk of transfusion-transmitted infections.

Health Minister Chris Fearne confirmed this on Wednesday morning, saying that the equipment would be in place in around six months.

Gay men are currently prohibited from donating blood to prevent transmission of HIV, however, with the introduction of the nucleic acid testing (NAT) equipment, this will become possible.

The newspaper Illum had confirmed that gay people were not allowed to donate blood when they called the donation centre. A doctor informed the paper that men who had experienced sexual encounters with other men were not eligible to donate blood.

Speaking at the launch of a refurbished mobile blood transfusion unit, Fearne urged people to donate blood, as around 50 bags a day are needed throughout the year.

In the last year, there were a total of 16,000 blood donations, with around 2,000 people registered as new donors.