Gay and bisexual men may be allowed to give blood after a review of high-risk exclusions undertaken by the advisory committee on the safety of blood, tissues and organs.

Men who have had sex with other men are currently banned for life from donating blood, under measures designed to reduce the risk of passing on infections such as HIV.  

Health officials have argued that although all blood donations are screened for HIV before they are used, very recent infections may not be detected.

The only way to protect patients against this window of early infection, it is argued, is through careful donor selection. Only two patients have been infected with HIV through blood transfusions since 1985.

Due to an expected shortfall resulting from the swine flu pandemic, the NHS Blood and Transplant agency has called for a 50 per cent increase in blood donations.

The advisory committee on the safety of blood, tissues and organs is meeting to discuss evidence for and against exclusion of high-risk donors, and is expected to make its final recommendations to the government next year.