Calls for blood donation equality as end to Mad Cow ban considered

Equality advocates are disappointed the Australian Red Cross Lifeblood Service continues to ban gay & bi men and some trans folks from blood donation despite Lifeblood’s support for ending the ban on people who lived in the UK in the 1980s and 90s.

A blood donor shortage due to the current Covid wave has prompted Lifeblood to ask Australia’s blood regulator, the Therapeutic Goods Administration, to lift the British ban that was put in place to prevent transmission of Mad Cow Disease.

Back in October 2020, Lifeblood and the TGA also agreed to lift the ban on blood donation by people with tattoos.

Gay and bisexual men, and some trans women, are still prohibited from blood donation if they have had sex in the last three months, despite scientific evidence showing many are safe to donate.

“The latest global research shows that many gay, bi and trans Australians are safe to donate blood,” Just.Equal Australia’s Rodney Croome said.

“This is why so many countries, including Britain, France, Germany, the Netherlands and soon Canada, are doing away with their gay blood bans and adopting individual risk assessment for all donors instead.”

“At a time when blood supplies are running low, it is bewildering and frustrating that so many gay, bisexual and trans people who are safe to donate are still being refused the opportunity to save lives.”

“If Australian lives are lost because of blood shortages the obstinate refusal of Lifeblood and the TGA to accept safe gay blood must be held partly responsible.”

In 2021, Dr Sharon Dane on behalf of Just.Equal, wrote a comprehensive report on the latest global gay blood donor research, as well as the replacement of gay blood bans with individual risk assessment based on that research.

The report recommended an end to the blood ban and the adoption of individual risk assessment model now in use in the UK.

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