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Lesbian,Gay,Bisexual & Transgender Conference 2005
23 September 2005

This conference notes that the purpose of the blood services in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland is to provide a safe and adequate supply of blood. Screening of blood donors for HIV is necessary for the safety of the blood supply because the available tests for screening donated blood for HIV are not infallible, it is not possible to heat-treat whole blood, and there is a 90% chance of contracting HIV from a transfusion of HIV infected blood.

Conference is concerned that the current permanent ban on men who have ever had oral or anal sex with another man from giving blood perpetuates a damaging and false myth that all gay men are at risk of HIV. There are thousands of gay and bisexual men who have never had sex without using condoms or who have had negative HIV tests since they last did so. Many of these men are frustrated and angered by the current ban preventing them from giving blood

Policies on who may and who may not donate blood must be justified and must flow directly from hard evidence from risk assessments on groups at risk, subject to regular review. There should always be clear medical and epidemiological justification for any difference in treatment between groups of potential donors.

Conference notes that both UNISON and the TUC have raised questions with the National Blood Service about reviewing the evidence on which it bases its current policy, the language used in information to potential donors and practice in donor sessions.

Conference calls on the NEC, in conjunction with the Health SGE and the TUC to:

1.Work with Terrence Higgins Trust and other HIV/AIDS organisations to review current research and best practice in the field of blood screening and, if appropriate, call for the amendment of blood donation policy and procedures in light of it;

2.Ensure that UNISON has an effective input into any National Blood Service review of the language and literature used in the Donor Screening Policy