Stormont’s Health Minister has said that Northern Ireland may follow suit with the rest of Britain and lift the lifetime ban on gay men donating blood.
The prohibition was removed in England, Scotland and Wales in 2011 and now allows gay males to donate a year after their last sexual encounter with another man.
But the Northern Ireland executive held on to the lifetime ban citing ‘blood safety’ issues. In response to a written question Hamilton said he had written to UK Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt suggesting that SaBTO, an advisory committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs, provide a new report on the current level of risk associated with a permanent deferral, a five-year deferral and a one-year deferral.
Hamilton said the issue should be resolved ‘promptly’ after the judges make their ruling.
“If such a piece of work affirms emerging evidence that blood safety has been increased in Great Britain, it would be my view that such evidence should be followed and that Northern Ireland should adopt the same policy on blood donations from MSM (men who have had sex with men) as the rest of the United Kingdom,” he said.