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If gay men could give blood we might not have a blood supply crisis

This year’s NHS blood stocks are facing an imminent crisis after a 40 percent drop in donations, NHS Blood and Transplant has revealed.

According to Jon Latham, an assistant director at the NHS, the huge reduction in the number of new donors is a global trend, reports The Telegraph.

“We know that peoples’ lives (sic) have got busier over the last decade,” he said. “People are working longer hours, commuting further, spending more time online and have less time of their own, despite more options of how to use it. Travel to more exotic places, tattoos and investigations — such as endoscopy — are becoming more common and these lead to short term deferrals from donation. These are just some of the reasons why we’ve seen a decline in new people starting to donate.”

More: Scotland leads the way when it comes to LGBT politicians

To give blood you have to be fit and healthy, weigh over 7 stone 12 lbs (50 kg) and be aged between 17 and 66 . Oh and you can’t be a gay man. Actually, you can — the lifetime ban on gay men donating blood was lifted in 2011 but you can’t have had sex in the last 12 months.

Given that this isn’t the 1980s and we now know that sexually active heterosexuals can also contract HIV (and all sorts of other STIs) this rule seems outdated and senseless. There’s something wrong when a gay man practising safe sex is banned from giving blood while no such restrictions are placed on a heterosexual man who has unsafe sex with multiple partners.

Of course the safety and wellbeing of the recipient of blood transfusions must be respected but there has to be some room for logic and equality.

Restrictions on giving blood are applied to other people too. New mothers have to wait six months before donating, someone who has had a tattoo or piercing four months. But having a baby and getting a tattoo or piercing are life choices. Being a gay man isn’t, which is why this issue needs to be addressed. Particularly when 204,000 gay men could potentially solve the blood supply crisis.

Find out more about giving blood.

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