The restriction on blood donation concerning men who have sex with men will be lifted on 4.12.

A regulation concerning sexual behaviour issued by the Finnish Medicines Agency Fimea will be introduced in blood donation on 4.12.2023. The regulation changes eligibility criteria to lift the separate ban on blood donation for men who have sex with men.

The previous restriction concerning men who have sex with men has long been a topic of discussion, and the Blood Service itself has actively campaigned for the change.

“We are pleased that the change can be implemented. Our goal is to maintain the safety of blood products and to ensure that the donation criteria are as fair as possible for everyone,” says Johanna Castrén, Director of Blood Donation.

As a result of the change, deferral period practices related to sexual behaviour will be made consistent in blood donation and will be the same for everyone regardless of sex.

The purpose of restrictions on donations is to ensure the safety of both the patient and the donor. Donor eligibility criteria contribute to reducing the risks of blood-borne diseases. Although all donated blood is carefully screened, laboratory tests cannot detect a recent HIV or hepatitis infection.

“Based on a risk assessment carried out by the Blood Service, Finland can transition to a procedure wherein there is no separate deferral for men who have sex with men. In the future, a four-month donation deferral will result from a new sexual partner or change in sexual partner, or several partners,” Castrén says.

In 2022, the Blood Service proposed that Fimea change the blood donation deferral for men who have sex with men. Fimea’s regulation concerning blood service operations entered into force on 1.10.2023 after consultations. The Blood Service had a three-month transition period in which to implement the change.