Blood donation criteria now based on individual sexual activity

Tuesday 7 May 2024: Bermuda Hospitals Board today updated its blood donor eligibility criteria to include risk-based questions that will be the same for every individual, regardless of sexual orientation, sex or gender. These questions reduce the risk of transfusion-transmitted infections, such as HIV.

The change brings Bermuda in line with blood donation criteria in the UK, Canada and the US.

Consultant Haematologist and Acting Chief of Pathology Dr Eyitayo Fakunle explains: “Our focus is always to ensure that our criteria maximise the safety of our blood supply. We test all our donated blood and we also defer donations from people who do not meet our criteria. Deferrals of higher-risk individuals and testing of all donated blood together give us the best protection overall.”

Prior to this change, the Bermuda Blood Donor Centre criteria had time-based deferrals specific to men who’d had sex with men (MSM) and women who’d had sex with MSM during the previous three months.

“These criteria didn’t address the sexual behaviour of all individuals, nor did they recognise that not everyone in one group has the same level of risk,” Dr Fakunle says. “The new questions will therefore be asked of all donors, irrespective of their sexual orientation.”

The new criteria will defer prospective donors who report having anal sex with a new sexual partner or more than one sexual partner of any gender in the past three months. People who are in monogamous relationships of three months or more will therefore not be deferred, irrespective of their sexual orientation.

Dr Fakunle adds: “We continue to use global research and evidence so that our blood donation criteria ensure safe transfusions for our patients. This is without doubt our most important priority in transfusion services.

“Criteria are updated when science indicates there is a more effective way to ensure safety. As a small jurisdiction, we closely follow the US and Canada specifically as we are accredited by patient safety bodies from both those countries.”

People can review a factsheet on sexual activity and blood donation, and all the blood donation eligibility criteria on the BHB website at


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