Gay men will be allowed to donate blood three months after having sex instead of a year under new rules coming into force today.
Fears over infections being passed on through donations from gay men led to an outright ban at the height of the Aids epidemic but that was cut to 12 months in 2011.
Medical advances mean the time limit is reduced further after England joined Wales and Scotland in passing the legislation earlier this year.
Dr Gail Miflin, medical and research director at NHS Blood and Transplant said: “We have one of the safest blood supplies in the world.
“Anyone may require a blood transfusion in the future and so it’s in all our interests to ensure that we work hard to keep blood safe for patients.
“This starts with selection of donors before they give blood.
“Everyone must answer questions on their health and lifestyle before they donate and answering these questions correctly is crucial, in order to keep blood safe”
Deborah Gold, chief executive of NAT, the National Aids Trust, said: “It’s great to see the new blood donation rules going live, enabling gay men to donate three months from their last sexual activity, as opposed to the previous 12 months, as well as also shortening the deferral period for other groups who were previously permanently deferred.
“This means more people can donate blood, the blood supply remains totally safe and the rules are based on up-to-date evidence.
“We look forward to working further with NHS Blood and Transplant as they explore the potential for further personalisation of donation rules for gay men.”