What is the evidence for the change in the blood ­donation deferral period for high-risk groups and does it go far enough?

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Abstract

In November 2017, the deferral on blood donations from high-risk groups in Great Britain was changed to 3 months from last at-risk sexual contact following recommendations from the Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs. This represented a reduction from 12 months for men who have sex with men, and from a lifetime ban for sex workers. This is a step forward for equality and for reducing stigma around these groups. However, one argument for deferral is the prevalence of infections, which may not be identified due to the fallibility of current testing approaches. Clearly it is vital that the welfare of blood transfusion recipients is prioritised and they are not exposed to unacceptable risks. However, with the increasingly sophisticated technology used to screen blood, it can be argued that the evidence shows that the reduction in deferral does not go far enough.

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