UK Government to End Donor Deferral Related to Sexual Contact and HIV-Endemic Areas

October 13, 2021

The United Kingdom’s Department of Health and Social Care recently accepted recommendations from the FAIR (For the Assessment of Individualised Risk) steering group that donors no longer need to be asked about a partner’s sexual contact in parts of the world where HIV is common.

Currently, prospective donors in the U.K. are asked if they have ever had sex with a partner who may ever have been sexually active in an area where HIV is endemic, which includes most of sub-Saharan Africa. If they have, the donor is deferred for 3 months after the last sexual contact with that partner.

Following the recent introduction of a new Donation Safety Check questionnaire, the steering group concluded that there is no longer a need for this question, as all donors are now assessed for risk of a sexual infection based on their individual sexual behaviors. The National Health Service Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) will stop asking this question in late 2021.

In a statement announcing the change, Su Brailsford, interim associate medical director NHSBT and chair of FAIR, said the change will create a more equitable, better experience for all donors.

“Coming into effect by the end of 2021, we hope this change will also remove the unease long-felt by some donors about this – in particular the Black African community whose needs we are working hard to listen to and better address, those of African heritage, and their partners, who are all disproportionately affected,” Brailsford said.