Gay and bisexual men in the UK have been told they cannot donate their plasma to a trial hoping to provide a treatment for Covid-19.
Doctors at London’s Guy’s and St Thomas’s Hospital are aiming to use the plasma from recovered coronavirus patients to treat others with the disease.
It is hoped that the possible treatment, known as convalescent plasma, will help Covid-19 patients whose bodies are not producing enough antibodies to fight the disease.
But any man who has had sex with another man within the past three months is excluded from donating their plasma, in line with the current rules for donating blood.
Those guidelines explain that “men who have sex with men are at an increased risk of acquiring certain infections through sex”, which could be passed on during a transfusion
The guidelines around donating blood are set by the Department of Health on the recommendation of the Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs. Under the current guidelines, men must wait three months after having oral or anal sex with another man.
A spokesperson for the upcoming COVID-19 trial stated : “The guidelines are there to protect the health of the donor and the recipient.
Laura Russell, Director of Policy at UK Stonewall, said: “It’s really upsetting that gay and bi men who want to help in the fight against coronavirus are being prevented from doing so. The decision on whether people should be able to give blood or plasma should be based on individual risk assessments, not on people’s sexual orientation.”