NHS Blood and Transplant implements a three-month deferral period for men who have sex with men, irrespective of whether an individual routinely takes pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to reduce the risk against infection with HIV. This deferral period is based on expert independent advice, provided by the Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs, to protect donors and the patients who receive donated blood.
At a population level, men who have sex with men have a higher risk of acquiring a blood-borne virus or a sexually transmitted disease. Using PrEP can reduce the risk of transmitting HIV but it does not eliminate it. PrEP also does not reduce the risk of an individual becoming infected by other sexually transmitted infections, such as syphilis and hepatitis, and subsequently transmitting these infections through donated blood.
NHS Blood and Transplant appreciates that any deferral is disappointing if an individual would like to save lives by giving blood. NHS Blood and Transplant is currently working with LGBT+ groups to explore more individualised assessments and hope to report their findings towards the end of 2020.