Let non-celibate gay men donate blood, Tory MP to demand
Michael Fabricant, MP for Lichfield, say rules introduced in wake of Aids epidemic no longer make sense
By Matthew Holehouse
A blanket ban on sexually active gay men giving blood should be lifted, a Conservative MP will say today.
Michael Fabricant, a former Government whip and the MP for Lichfield, will tell the Commons that a ban introduced in the 1980s in response to the HIV epidemic is illogical and outdated and should be reviewed by an expert panel.
Under rules introduced in the 1980s, gay men were banned entirely from donating blood. They were revised in 2011 to prevent men who had not been celibate for 12 months from donating.
Mr Fabricant is expected to tell the Commons that those rules ?no longer make sense?.
He will argue that gay people pose no greater risk to patients than other people, and suggest that a new pre-donation blood test is introduced for both gay and straight donors.
?How can it be logical that a straight promiscuous man who might have a two different partners each night of the year can donate blood while a gay man in a monogamous loving relationship cannot – unless he has certified that he has been totally celibate for the past year?,? he is expected to say.
?How can a nation that has just passed the equal marriage Act block those same people from donating blood??
Mr Fabricant is expected to tell the commons that one of his friends ?has to tell a lie? in order to donate rare O rhesus negative blood, stocks of which are ?extremely low?.
He will speak at the introduction of a Ten Minute Rule Bill, which offers MPs the opportunity to introduce new legislation.
He is expected to say: ?In the early 1980s, when doctors first recognised the connection between blood contamination and the newly discovered so-called ?gay plague? ? AIDS – an instant ban was placed on blood donors who were in high risk categories such as those who shared needles, those who visited prostitutes and of course the gay community.
?There are others too such as people who have visited Sub-Saharan Africa who are considered to be of high risk. Most of these categories remain in place to this day.
?Many in this House today will remember those days when AIDS was a killer without treatment. It had even a higher fatality rate than Ebola has today. It was a killer without mercy. I know what it was like. A young friend of mine in his early 30s, once fit and active, died in 1992 from this awful disease. Thankfully, times have moved on.
?Today, HIV/AIDS is labelled as a chronic illness and is no longer the killer it once was. Huge advances in medicine and treatments mean that a diagnosis isn?t a death sentence, but something that can be managed. More relevant for this Bill, awareness and screening is highly efficient and quick. Detection of HIV/AIDS can be made within weeks and the accuracy is near perfect. ?
?We have a shortage of blood donors. Rules that ban those who are healthy, and who clearly pose no more risk than the average straight person no longer make sense and it?s time that this issue be addressed by the Government.?
Mr Fabricant?s Bill has support from cross-party MPs, including Tim Farron, the president of the Liberal Democrats, and Keith Vaz, the Labour chairman of the Home Affairs select committee.
He is expected to hail Anne Milton, the former health minister who relaxed the law in 2011, as a ?gay icon?.