From the end of 2021, a question on sexual activity of partners in areas where HIV is widespread will be removed from the donor safety check form, in an effort to increase inclusivity among donors.
The changes will particularly improve the ease to donate blood for Black African donors.
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 then be deferred for three months after the last sexual contact with that partner. This can often mean Black African and other potential donors in long-term relationships have been unable to donate blood.
Now, the UK Government has outlined plans to remove the question from those asked in the donor safety check, opening the door to a greater number of donations.
Increasing blood donor inclusivity for those who are Black African, Black Caribbean, and of Black mixed ethnicity is particularly important because they are more likely to have the rare blood sub-group, such as Ro, that many Black sickle cell patients need.
The change, making it easier for people from these groups to donate, will create greater opportunities to meet the ongoing need for rarer blood types and help improve and save lives in the UK.
Source: National Health Executive, 11 October 2021