From Summer 2021, the questions we ask before you give blood will change.
This is because UK blood services will be starting to assess eligibility on a person-by-person basis, instead of applying across-the-board restrictions which have previously excluded potential donors, including low-risk gay men.
Using a donor’s individual experiences to determine whether that person is eligible to donate makes the process fairer for all donors, and means more people will be able to give blood than ever before.
It also means we will be asking every donor the same questions - regardless of age, sex or sexual orientation.
These changes to the way UK blood services assess the risk of transfusion transmitted infections incorporate the key recommendations of the 2020 FAIR (For the Assessment of Individualised Risk) Report. The recommendations were designed by epidemiology, sexual health and infectious disease experts to make sure we keep the blood supply safe while making blood donation fairer and more accessible to all.
So what will these new questions be?
You will be asked whether, over the last three months, you have:
- been diagnosed with or treated for (or had sex with someone who had been diagnosed with or was being treated for) a sexually transmitted disease (excluding chlamydia, genital herpes or genital warts)?
- taken Pre or Post Exposure Prophylaxis for HIV (PrEP or PEP)?
- taken part in Chemsex? (Chemsex is defined as sexual activity under the influence of stimulant drugs such as methamphetamine or mephedrone to enhance sexual experiences, often involving sex with several partners during a session).
If your answer is ‘yes’ to any of these questions, you will not be eligible to give blood for another three months.
In addition, you will also be asked whether over the last three months, you have:
- had sex with someone new, or resumed a previous or infrequent sexual relationship?
- had sex with more than one person?
If you answer ‘yes’ to either (or both) questions, you will then be asked if you had anal sex with any of your sexual partners.
- If you have, you will not be able to donate for three months.
- If you have not, you will be able to donate (subject to all other eligibility criteria).
We realise that being asked about specific sexual practices is something you may be unused to or find embarrassing. However, we hope you will understand the need for these questions.
What will we do with the information you give us?
We keep a record of all donors, donations and test results. We use this information to:
- keep donors and patients safe.
- let you know when and where to donate.
- get in touch about any problems.
- improve our service.
- check we’re meeting our standards.
- help recruit new donors.
The information you give us is not linked to any other NHS or clinical records. All our staff are trained in confidentiality, and personal information is kept secure and only shared with other organisations if needed to deliver our service. We keep information about donors and donations for at least 30 years. You can find out more, including information about your rights, on our website or in our data protection leaflet.
Do you have any concerns around your sexual health after answering these questions?
We are working in partnership with sexual health professionals to promote greater awareness of how to manage your sexual health and well-being.
Find out more
To find out more about the FAIR report visit:
For online support on sexual health, visit:
For online support around drug use, visit:
For more information on hepatitis visit:
Thank you for working with us to introduce this important new approach to assessing donor health. Together we can save lives.