The Irish Blood Transfusion Service has said that next month it plans to consider changes to its lifelong ban on blood donations from men who have sex with men.

IBTS Medical and Scientific Director Dr Willie Murphy told a conference on the issue today that options include moving to a five-year or one-year deferral period.

The conference is hearing scientific analysis of the risks in Ireland and experiences from other countries that have changed their policies away from a lifelong ban, or to a shorter interval after which donations are accepted.

The ban was introduced to reduce the risk of HIV transmission from blood transfusions in the mid-1980s.

The blood transfusion services of the UK, Canada, New Zealand and Australia between them have tested over ten million donations since they changed their policies.

They are offering scientific data on the HIV risks in MSM blood donations.