Letter: Gay blood donors shunned

Sir: I was interested to read Graham Jarrett's letter (24 December) explaining why his wife was excluded from donating blood. I also responded to an appeal for more donations, in the summer of 1995 when there was a depletion in the level of blood stocks. However, I am excluded from donating blood for a very different reason.

The National Blood Transfusion Service's donor selection criteria inform potential male donors: "You must not give blood if ... you have ever had sex with another man." As a male homosexual I am automatically classified as belonging to a "high-risk group", regardless of the fact that I have taken heed of the safer-sex guidelines of the past decade.

Mr Jarrett is right to point out that the BTS is appealing to a very small donor base and so will continue to experience severe shortages, particularly at demanding periods such as Christmas. I acknowledge that the BTS has a responsibility to ensure no infected blood enters the system, but I believe it is possible to do so without ostracising certain sectors of society.