Fairer and more inclusive blood donations policy can be world leading, says rights group.

Press Release – 15th November 2022

For Immediate Release

The Irish Blood Transfusion Service (IBTS) has today announced changes to blood donation rules with a move to individualised risk-based assessment for all potential donors. This is the result of years of advocacy from HIV Ireland and others which initially led to a reduction in the deferral period to four months for gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men.

Eligibility for blood donation will now be based on sexual history rather than blanket rules based on gender or sexuality. This results in a fairer and more inclusive blood donation system, while also preserving the safety of Ireland’s blood supply. The changes will come into effect from Monday 28th of November.

“The IBTS is to be commended for the introduction of individualised risk-based assessments for blood donations,” said Stephen O’Hare, Executive Director of HIV Ireland. “The new policy, which will be applied to all potential donors, is a key step in the ongoing development of what can eventually be a world leading blood donation policy in Ireland.”

Welcoming the announcement, MPOWER Programme Manager at HIV Ireland and member of the Social Behaviours Review Group, Mr Adam Shanley said “The new approach represents a fairer and more inclusive blood donor selection criteria which allows for more people to donate blood while protecting the safety of the blood supply for those who rely on it.”

“Eligibility will now be based on sexual practices that have been identified as higher risk for infection instead of membership of a sexual or gender minority,” continued Mr Shanley “something we at HIV Ireland have called to have changed for many years.”

Expressing disappointment on the stated intention of the IBTS to maintain certain restrictions, including a permanent ban for those with a history of gonorrhoea and where a sexual partner is living with HIV and is virally supressed, Mr Shanley said “In reviewing ongoing deferral policies, every consideration should be given by the IBTS to the weight of robust scientific evidence on the efficacy of available treatments for STIs including in relation to sexual partners living with HIV who are virally supressed and cannot pass on HIV through sex.”



Notes for Editors:

For comment and interview contact Adam Shanley, MPOWER Programme Manager at HIV Ireland Email: adam.shanley@hivireland.ie Tel: 0861605290