Wednesday 31 August 2016

1820 Blood Overture

Tomorrow it will be 1,820 days since men who have had sex with men (MSM) have been able to give blood in England, Wales and Scotland. Tomorrow is also the first day that the same 12 month deferral period comes into force in Northern Ireland.

After years of me campaigning for an evidence based policy on the risk my blood and that or other people who take every precaution possible with regards to their blood this is the eve of a momentous day.

The 17th August 1998 was the last time I donated blood and on that day I had done so illegally not having checked all the small print about my sexual history. I hope that those who benefited in the shortfall after the effects of the Omagh bombing are not too annoyed with me my last pint. Early next week, I hope to be able to return to the ranks of those who donate blood.

However, while I can return to donating blood next week, it may not last for long. Should I have sex with another man I once again will have to wait twelve longs months of celibacy, even if that one person becomes my life partner to ever be able to give blood again. The fact that I can give blood tells you one thing about my I've not had sex in over 12 months, the fact that in the future I may not will tell you the reverse. No matter how safe, how committed a relationship or how good my blood is unaffected by disease and a good oxygen carrier it may be withdrawn from helping others.

However, while one small part of me is rejoicing to be able to donate my blood once again, another part of me mourns that should I fall in love again once more stigma rather the basis of how we make love will decide if I can donate or not.