Blood stocks in the UK are at an all time low as the blood transfusion service made a controversial decision last week to change the sexual history questions on its donor health check.
Previously, donors were asked whether they had had sex with certain groups of high-risk partners (men who had had sex with men, anyone who had injected drugs, anyone who has hepatitis B or C, anyone who has had sex where AIDS is common, etc) and were not allowed to give blood if they answered yes.
The sexual history section now consists of one question – “Have you had sex? EVER?” and if the answer is yes, then the donor is turned away.
Neville Irons of NHS Blood and Transplant explained. “We take the safety of our blood products very seriously and are always working towards improving donor screening. When the list of exclusions reached four pages of A4, we realised that the health check had to be simplified.”
This has however had a detrimental effect on blood stocks. “Unfortunately it now means that our donor panel consists of a couple of old spinsters, half a dozen spotty teenage boys and Anne Widdecombe, so you can’t win them all.”