Britain Allows Gay Men to Donate Blood

British health officials announced Sunday that homosexual men will soon be allowed to give blood, with one caveat: Only men who have not had sexual intercourse within the past 10 years are allowed to donate. Health Minister Anne Milton said the policy was being lifted because of concerns that it was discriminatory and could breach equality legislation. Health officials said the blood would be screened for HIV and other STDs, and that lifting the ban for abstinent gay men would increase the risk of HIV entering blood supply by less than 2.5 percent. Part of the explanation behind the 10-year rule is that it leaves less of a margin of error for those who don't know they have the virus to pass it on accidentally. In the United States, men who have had gay sex at any time since 1977 are not allowed to give blood.