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  • Writer's pictureThe YSI

Join the YSI Blood Drive This February

It has become somewhat of a tradition to celebrate the end of term for existing NEC members and to welcome new NEC members into their freshly elected role with a big YSI social, so that we can all have the opportunity to connect with each other in a fun way. Sadly, it is still not safe enough to do things as we would normally. So, instead of a social we have decided to come together to do something that will have a positive impact in our communities across Scotland in honour of the fantastic work the young people of the YSI have achieved over the last year. Which is why we have organised a nationwide YSI Blood Drive! The information included in this document should be everything you need to know about giving blood; how important it is and how easy it is to take part, if you are able toPlus, you get free Tunnocks at the end!

So please, join the 2020/21 YSI NEC in giving blood this month, if you can, and post your contribution!


Can I give blood? - Take this quiz from ScotBlood

Do they need my blood? - Check the current blood stocks

Has it all changed because of COVID? - All your questions should be answered here!



First thing you’ve got to do? Register or sign in! Make sure you use the ScotBlood website.


Double check if you can give blood with the previously mentioned quiz. If you have given blood before, check the next time you are eligible to give.


Make your appointment! There should be a donor centre relatively local to you and open throughout the day so it should be easy to find a time to suit you. Remember, it takes around an hour to donate blood.


Review your appointment and confirm. This is where you can confirm if you would like an email the day before to remind you.


Head to your appointment (this is considered to be essential travel if you have to leave your local authority area) The centre will keep you safe and will walk you through the whole process. If it is your first time, you will have a short one to one chat about your medical history. You will then head to get your blood taken, and the staff are always friendly and attentive. Some important tips to keep in mind::

  • Make sure you are fit and well beforehand

  • Have something to eat and drink plenty of water


Once you’re finished, you can head over to get a drink and biscuits. Have a wee sit down for a while, so your body has a little bit of time to recover.

That’s it, well done!

Blood Donation and Gay and Bisexual Men



Following years of campaigning by sexual health and LGBTQ+ organisations. Blood donation rules for sex workers and gay men were relaxed in 2017 England and Scotland after improvements in the accuracy of testing procedures.

Men who have sex with men could give blood three months after their last sexual activity instead of 12. And sex workers, who were previously barred from donating, could, subject to the same three-month rule.

Organisations who campaigned for the deferral period to be reduced argued that modern screening techniques made a lengthy period of abstinence unnecessary.

"You have to weigh up the balance between making sure that any risk to the blood supply is properly mitigated and making sure that people aren't being unfairly prevented from giving blood should they wish to," said Kat Smithson, Director of Policy at the National AIDS Trust (NAT) who advocated for the change.

Since November 2017, the UK has operated a 3-month deferral policy on all gay/bisexual men who want to donate their blood. However, this did not apply to Northern Ireland until 2020. The Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs recommended the policy change after a study concluded that a total ban may breach equality legislation and that the risk of HIV reaching the blood supply would only increase by approximately 2%.


In December 2020 it was announced that the Scotland would move to a personalised sexual behaviour risk assessment and scrap the deferral period specific to men who have sex with men.

In Scotland from Summer 2021, anyone wishing to donate blood will be given an individual risk assessment - which will see potential donors asked questions about their sexual behaviour.

The changes follow recommendations by the group For the Assessment of Individualised Risk (FAIR), made up of leading medical and academic experts and LGBTI+ groups.

Director of the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service, Craig Spalding, said: "Donor eligibility based on personal risk assessments, rather than on broader demographic information such as sexuality, is a welcome change.

But why is this a debate?

In 1980, men who had sex with men were given a lifetime ban on donating blood. This was in response to the 1980s HIV/AIDS Crisis. Once it was realised that these conditions could be passed on through blood, it was crucial that those who were most at risk of contracting the viruses, including gay and bisexual men, were not able to pass them on through blood donation since effective screening was not yet available. Scotland had only decriminalised consensual gay sex between male adults in 1980, and the drive for equality was realistically still in its infancy.

The quote below is from a gay man living in Scotland in the 1980s during the HIV/AIDS Crisis - The impact was felt on a personal and emotional level, but also in the way that gay men saw themselves and were seen by wider society.

“...a leaflet going through every door in Britain, you couldn’t escape it, you really couldn’t escape it, and very quickly from ’80, ’81 people were actually being diagnosed and the first gay man who was diagnosed that I knew, was a friend, and of course then you think, ‘Oh my God!’. “

Evidence shows that 37 per cent of HIV positive men who have sex with men in Scotland are currently undiagnosed. - this is largely contributed to the homophobia felt in the 1980s men who lived through the crisis. The overall prejudice and lack of understanding for health services dedicated to gay and bisexual men are too, held back, by the blanket ban imposed on men having sex with men in 1980.

We understand that not everyone will be able to donate blood for various reasons, so if you fall within this category but would still like to take part please consider making a donation to some of the following organisations:

Links of our suggestions of places you could donate to are below. These include the Anthony Nolan Trust and the Global Blood Fund. They are both partners of the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service.

A couple of UK charities are also listed. The DKMS (German "Deutsche KnochenMarkSpenderdatei" or "German Bone Marrow Donor File") which is an international nonprofit bone marrow donor center based in Tübingen, Germany, with entities in the US, UK, Chile, Poland, and India, and the British Heart Foundation.

By Laura Pollock, YSI Political Education Officer


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