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23 July 2017, 07:16 | Updated: 23 July 2017, 07:25
Gay men will be allowed to donate blood three months after having sex instead of a year under equality reforms announced by the Government.
Following a scientific review by the Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs (SaBTO), Scottish Government Minister for Public Health, Aileen Campbell MSP, has asked the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service (SNBTS) to implement a series of changes - including significantly reducing the donation deferral period for men who have sex with men (MSM) from 12 months to 3 months.
The decision is based on the most up-to-date scientific evidence and clinical advice, and will offer more people the opportunity to donate.
Commenting, Stewart McDonald MP said:
''I am delighted that the Scottish Government has announced that SaBTO's blood donation recommendations will be implemented in Scotland at the earliest opportunity.
''These changes, based on the most up-to-date scientific evidence, will offer more people than ever before the opportunity to donate blood - helping to save lives by increasing vital blood stock, without affecting the world-leading safety of Scotland's blood supply.
''Many gay and bisexual men have felt that blood donation rules were outdated, and wrongly prevented them from donating so it is a welcome step forward that the current 12 month donation deferral period for men who have sex with men will now be significantly reduced to just 3 months.
''It is also encouraging that the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service will be looking at epidemiological research on individualised risk assessments, to explore what further changes may be possible in future.
''Donating blood is a life-saving act and, with these changes set to be implemented in Scotland in November, I hope more people will consider donating so that many more lives can be saved.''
Ethan Spibey, founder of the FreedomToDonate group that has campaigned for reform, said: ''Today's announcement from the Government marks a world-leading blood donation policy for gay and bisexual men and the other groups previously restricted. I'm so proud that the work of FreedomToDonate and our supporters will help ensure more people than ever before are allowed to safely donate blood.
''I began this campaign because I wanted to repay the donor who saved my granddad's life after a major operation and this announcement means I'm closer than ever to doing that, with the invaluable help of our team of volunteers, and the charities and organisations FreedomToDonate represents.''