NUS delivers evidence to APPG on Blood Donation

Monday 20-03-2017 - 10:47

Last week Rob Young, NUS Vice President Society and Citizenship, delivered evidence to the APPG on Blood Donation on how the current regulations impact on students

What’s an APPG?

The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Blood Donation is formed of a selection of cross party parliamentarians with an interest in blood donation. NUS was invited to give evidence to the group to inform its inquiry into blood donation rules. Other organisations involved in the APPG include Stonewall, National Aids Trust, Terrence Higgins Trust and LGBT Foundation.


Why were NUS there?

In 2011 NUS campaigned for the repeal of the lifetime ban on men who have sex with men (MSM) donating blood. Current regulations now mean that MSM can give blood if they haven’t had sex for 12 months or more. Current or ex-sex workers remain permanently banned from donating blood.  A recent drop in the number of blood donations and advancements in HIV detection and immunisation capabilities however have acted as a catalyst for the review into current regulations.


What are the issues?

In the APPG Rob Young spoke about how the current regulations impacts on students:

The deferral for MSM perpetuates the myth that AIDS is a 'gay disease'

We know that gay and bi men are victims of discrimination at schools and colleges based on historic stereotypes linking them to HIV and AIDS. NUS believes that a blanket ban preventing all MSM giving blood on the basis that they are automatically deemed to be a ‘high risk’ group further perpetuates this myth.

The deferral for MSM contradicts safe sex messages aimed at young people

The government and HIV charities promote the use of condoms as a vital way of reducing the chance of contracting a sexually transmitted disease. The fact that all MSM are restricted from giving blood for 12 months if they have sex, regardless of whether they use a condom or not, clearly undermines this message and is inconsistent and damaging for young people.

The blanket ban on all MSM is becoming increasingly untenable

The regulations have a knock on impact for women, non-binary people and other men who have sex with another man who has slept with a man. As we continue to smash the traditional restrictive understanding around sexuality and gender, a blanket ban on this basis becomes increasingly untenable.

The ban on those who have ever been paid for sex perpetuates discrimination towards sex workers

We know that sex workers also fall victim to discrimination and harassment based on stigma throughout society. NUS believes the ban further perpetuates this damaging stigma by asserting that all sex work is unsafe.

NUS recommends a fair blood donation system which is based on an assessment of risky sexual behaviours rather than a blanket ban based on an individual’s sexual orientation.


What can I do to get involved?

NUS Scotland are currently campaigning for the Scottish Government to review the restriction around MSM being able to donate blood. You can read more about the Bin the Blood Ban campaign here. NUS also supports the Freedom to Donate campaign, you can sign their petition here.

Recommendations from the APPG enquiry will be submitted to the Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood Tissues and Organs (SaBTO) who decide the UK’s blood donation regulations and are set to begin reviewing these later this year.


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