A ban on gay men giving blood in the UK is likely to be lifted soon according to The Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs (SaBTO).

Public health minister Anne Milton is said to be planning an announcement in the near future, according to The Sunday Times.

The latest medical evidence suggests that a ban is not justified. All blood donations are screened by the National Blood Service, but the concern has been that following infection there is a short time in which it is not possible to detect the virus.

Campaigners against the ban, which has been in place since HIV first became widespread in the 1980's, have stated in the past that many gay men are monogamous, celibate or practice safe sex.

In Australia, Argentina Sweden and Japan gay donors must wait a year after sexual activity before being allowed to donate blood. Although previously a 10-year ban in the UK was suggested, it is now more likely that the time period will be 1 year. In South Africa the period is six months.

According to recent figures from the Terrence Higgins Trust, of the 86,500 people in the UK who have HIV 42 per cent are gay and 54 per cent are heterosexual.