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The U.K. government will ease the ban on gay and bisexual men donating blood.

Anyone who has had the same sexual partner for the past three months will be eligible to donate, making blood donation gender-neutral.

On December 14, the U.K. announced that gay and bisexual men will be able to donate blood, so long as they have had the same sexual partner for the past three months. If donors have had more than one sexual partner or a new partner in the last three months, they can donate as long as they have not had anal sex, as having anal sex is the kind of sex that carries the most risk of a sexually transmitted infection.

Previously, men who have sex with men had to abstain from sex for three months before they donated blood.

For the Assessment of Individualised Risk(FAIR)—a collaboration of UK blood services and LGBT charities led by NHS Blood and Transplant—conducted extensive research into the risks associated with more individualized blood donor selection policies. They proposed a move away from a blanket three month policy and suggested instead identifying a wider range of “highest risk behaviors” that applies to all donors, regardless of sexuality.

These new changes to donor selection will still keep blood just as safe, assured Su Brailsford, Associate Medical Director at NHS Blood and Transplant & chair of FAIR. Brailsford added that "FAIR has also made a recommendation to [the] government that further evidence-based reviews are needed for other deferrals such as how we determine risk based on travel." This makes the U.K. the first country in the world to adopt a "more individualized risk-based approach" in the donor selection method.

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said that these new blood donation rules are safe and would allow many more people who were not allowed to donate would get an opportunity to save lives. It recognizes the actions taken by the individuals rather than their sexual preferences.

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