According to The National Blood Service, last year they received 2.1 million donations from about 1.6 million donors. Although that sounds a lot, it reflects only 4% of the population, giving two or three times a year.
The NHS needs a constant supply of 7,000 units of blood each day for hospitals across the UK, this equates to at least 2.5 million donations every year, leading to a deficit of 400,000 units of blood each year.
Members of the free gay dating website ManCentral.com were asked if they would donate blood if they were not restricted by the policies of the National Blood Service. An overwhelming 77% of respondents said they would donate blood if they were permitted to do so. Of the 23% who said no, various reasons were provided such as a fear of needles, previous blood transfusions or other family medical conditions such as CJD.
According to the National Blood Service any man who has had sex with another man is unable to give blood due to the risk of transmitting viruses such as HIV, HBV, HCV and syphilis during the 3 month ‘window period’ when tests cant detect these viruses in the blood. However this window period is the same for everyone regardless of gender and sexuality.
In 1999 heterosexual sex overtook homosexual sex as the most common route of transmission among new HIV cases overall; whilst in 2007, heterosexual transmission accounted for 55% of those diagnosed in the UK. Nevertheless in terms of transmission of the virus within the UK, men who have sex with men are still the group at highest risk of getting a new infection.
Interestingly, members of Man Central who admit to only sometimes practising safe sex were the least likely to agree to donate blood. This suggests that gay and bisexual men are intelligent enough to judge for themselves if they can safely donate blood.
Conservative estimates suggest that there are over 3 million Gay and Bisexual men within the UK. If the results from the research are taken as a reflection of the gay and bisexual population as a whole, gay and bisexual donors could potentially equate to 2.3 million donors compared to the 1.6 million donors of last year.
Whilst the need to protect public health by minimising the risk of transmission of HIV and other blood-borne viruses is undeniable, the life-long ban for gay and bisexual men is unnecessarily stringent and in turn detrimental to public health through the shortage of blood. As with promiscuous heterosexual donors, a 3 or even 6 month exclusion period could be applied to men who have had sex with men, after which time the threat of undetected viruses would be dramatically reduced if not removed.
* Those aged 31-35 are most likely to donate blood with 83% saying they would give blood if they could.
* Members looking for sex online were the most likely to avoid giving blood.
* 80% of Gay men said they would donate blood compared to 71% of Bisexual men.
* 78% of members who always practise safe sex would donate blood.
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ManCentral.com polled 3,667 members over a three day period. Detailed statistics & breakdowns available on request. Members who answered the surveys remained anonymous to ensure an honest and accurate response.
ManCentral.com was launched in 2008 and has over 133,000 members, primarily from the UK and Ireland. The site allows gay, bisexual and curious men to join, create an online profile and contact other members of the site for free. Users of the site have free access to the forums, chat room, instant messenger and email features.