In a new and previously-unreported statement, the Isle of Man Department for Health and Social Care has announced that they will shortly “re-evaluate” their position on blood donations from men who have had sex with men (MSM).
Currently, the men of the Isle of Man are prohibited giving blood locally if they have “had anal or oral sex with another man with or without a condom.” [efn_note]IOM Government: Can I give blood?[/efn_note] The Isle of Man’s policy on this is different from the United Kingdom, where “Currently, all men must wait 3 months after having oral or anal sex with another man before donating.”[efn_note]NHS Blood: Men who have sex with Men (MSM)[/efn_note]
In 2016, the Isle of Man’s Department of Health and Social Care released a statement on this issue, deciding to continue indefinitely bar MSM from donating blood:
In 2014, we decided that expert opinion would be required in order to make an evidence based recommendation to the DHSC. Professor William Murphy, Director of the Irish National Blood Transfusion Service, was invited to visit the IOM to offer advice…
Professor Murphy undertook this visit in late 2014…His main recommendation was that as the IOM BTS is not regulated by the Medicines and Health Care Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) then it is imperative to first obtain evidence that the IOM blood bank was comparable in terms of safety and processes to the UK. To this end, it was arranged for an ex MHRA inspector (Barbara Morris), to undertake a full analysis of the Isle of Man services in August 2015.
Her report, although stating that the processes used on the Isle of Man were very good, outlined a number of issues that would prevent us fully meeting MHRA standards. We have put plans into action in order to address these matters, but it is seen as a process that may take a number of years before we can achieve full compliance. In the meantime, because we cannot fully benchmark our services against the UK NHSBT, it is felt unwise to change our donor selection criteria at this time.MSM (Men who have Sex with Men) and donating blood – Isle of Man positional statement
The Isle of Man Department of Health and Social Care has recently released a new statement on the issue in response to a Freedom of Information request:
Historically, the UK changed the law due to a new testing protocol for HIV that was impossible to implement on the IOM at the time. We have recently adopted these tests (Nucleic Acid Tests) and this will allow us to re-evaluate our position on MSM donations.
A departmental paper will be considered by the DHSC Executive Team during 2021 and we hope to see some progress shortly after that paper.Freedom of Information Response #1615741
Update 18 May 2023: Corrected some odd paragraph spacing