Advocates call on government to lift gay blood donation ban

Australian LGBTIQ+ advocates will today write to the federal government and the Red Cross Blood Service, calling for the removal of a long-standing ban that prevents men who have sex with men from donating blood.

The call comes as the US Food and Drug Administration lifted some restrictions on gay blood donation, reducing the period gay/bi+ men must abstain from sex before donating from twelve months to three.

just.equal spokesperson Rodney Croome has highlighted that blood donation experts have warned supplies will soon be running short in Australia.

“We believe allowing blood donation from gay men whose sexual activity is safe would increase the supple of safe blood for those in need,” Croome said.

“We call on the Australian Government to go further than the United States by removing the existing ban altogether and allowing gay men whose sexual activity is safe to donate.”

The Australian Red Cross Blood Service refuses blood donation from gay men who have had sex in the past twelve months.

The ban on blood donations from men who have sex with men remains as a relic from a time when HIV was less understood, and prevalent among gay men. Now, many advocates argue that the historical policy is discriminatory.

“The risk of passing on diseases like HIV through blood donation is created by unsafe sex, not gay sex,” Croome continues, “The risk is reduced further by preventative treatments like PrEP.”

“We should have a screening policy that focuses on safety of sexual activity rather than gender of sexual partner.”

“There are thousands of gay men across Australia whose blood is safe and whose desire to help has never been greater.”

“Let’s allow them to give the gift of life before it’s too late and the blood shortage bites.”

“Today we will write to the Red Cross Blood Service and the Federal Government asking them to lift the current gay blood ban in the name of saving lives.”

Croome said a higher level of testing of blood donated by gay men could help ease any lingering concerns.

“Because this would be a new policy, we would be happy for the Red Cross to apply extra clinical testing to blood donated by gay men to ensure there is no risk to blood recipients.”

“At a time of crisis like this, we can’t allow old prejudices to get in the way of saving lives.”

OIP Staff


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