NORTHERN Ireland will lift its lifetime ban on gay men donating blood from September.

The ban was introduced during the 80s AIDS crisis, but the new policy will mean gay men can donate blood one year after their last sexual contact with another man.

The ‘one-year deferral system’ was previously introduced in England, Scotland and Wales in 2011.

Northern Ireland’s health minister Michelle O’Neill told BBC that even though every donation is tested for HIV, tests are not 100 per cent reliable.

“It is vitally important for every donor to comply with any deferral rules that apply to them,” O’Neill said.

Australia currently has a one-year deferral system for gay men who wish to donate blood.

In 2014, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) – Australia’s regulatory agency for medical drugs and devices – blocked a recommendation from the Australian Red Cross Blood Service to reduce the waiting period for blood donations from sexually-active men who have sex with men from 12 to six months.

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