Sex workers and gay men will now be allowed to donate blood in Britain and Scotland three months after having sex instead of a year, under equalities reforms announced by the government.
Previously, sex workers were barred from donating but now they will be allowed to give blood three months after they last had sex.
Also, men who have sex with men were only allowed to give blood 12 months after their last sexual activity but that will now be reduced to three months.
Transgender people will also be able to choose their legal sex more easily as part of the shake-up announced by the education secretary, Justine Greening.
Fears over infections being passed on through donations from gay men led to an outright ban at the height of the Aids epidemic but that was cut to 12 months in 2011. Medical advances mean the time limit will be reduced again under plans for the NHS in England.
Greening, who doubles as the equalities minister, said the government was building on the progress made on tackling prejudice in the 50 years since the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality.
“This government is committed to building an inclusive society that works for everyone, no matter what their gender or sexuality and today we’re taking the next step forward,” she said. “We will build on the significant progress we have made over the past 50 years, tackling some of the historic prejudices that still persist in our laws and giving LGBT people a real say on the issues affecting them.”
All blood that is donated in the UK undergoes a mandatory test for HIV, Hepatitis B and C, and some other viruses.
The rule change will allow more people to donate blood without compromising blood supply safety, experts say.
It comes after Prime Minister Theresa May earlier this week indicated she was preparing to reform the Gender Recognition Act, saying that “when it comes to rights and protections for trans people, there is still a long way to go”.
Suzanna Hopwood, a member of the Stonewall trans advisory group, said: “Reform is one of the key priorities in our vision for removing the huge inequalities that trans people face in the UK. The current system is demeaning and broken.
“It’s vital that this reform removes the requirements for medical evidence and an intrusive interview panel, and finally allows all trans people to have their gender legally recognised through a simple administrative process. That’s what we’ll be calling for during this consultation, and I’m looking forward to seeing the law change soon after.”
The Government accepted the recommendations of the advisory committee on the safety of blood, tissues and organs (SaBTO) on changing the deferral periods for blood donations from gay men.