A London hospital has been accused of “prejudice” by not allowing gay or bisexual men to donate plasma for a coronavirus trial.
Doctors at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital are attempting to use a groundbreaking “convalescent plasma” treatment to cure coronavirus, according to ITV News.
But the hospital is reportedly rejecting plasma samples from men who have had sex with another man within the past three months, similar to the current rules for donating blood.
Gay rights activist Peter Tatchell tweeted: “Gay & bisexual men in the UK are being excluded from a new blood plasma trial to help treat coronavirus = PREJUDICE!
“The ban is based on the mistaken assumption that they are all at risk of HIV. Not so. Many have only safe sex & have tested HIV negative.”
While Gay Times journalist Tom Knight said: “The government reminding us once again they see gay men differently by imposing a ban on us donating plasma in the fight against COVID-19 if we’ve been sexuality active within the last 3 months.
Latest coronavirus news, updates and advice
“These policies are outdated and completely discriminatory, just like donating blood.”
The NHS’s current blood donation guidelines state that "men who have sex with men are at an increased risk of acquiring certain infections through sex".
Current Department of Health guidelines also exclude any man who has had sex with another man within the past three months from donating their plasma.
A spokesperson for the NHS Blood and Transplant service said: “We will initially be using the current donor selection guidelines although we will keep this under review."
A spokesperson added: "The guidelines are there to protect the health of the donor and the recipient.
"Under the current guidelines, men must wait three months after having oral or anal sex with another man. We appreciate this deferral can feel disappointing if you want to save lives.
"Separately to the convalescent plasma trial, we are working with LGBT+ groups to explore whether we might be able to introduce a more individualised risk assessment for blood donation.”
Yahoo News UK has contacted Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital for comment.