Let Us Give campaign welcomes Lifeblood commitment to more research

The Let Us Give campaign has welcomed the Red Cross Lifeblood Service’s decision to conduct a research program into scrapping the current blanket ban on gay blood donation and adopting individual risk assessment instead.

Let Us Give spokesperson, Rodney Croome, said the group has been campaigning for a review of the current ban since it was formed earlier this year.

“In every country that has dropped the gay blood ban and adopted individual risk assessment instead, including the UK and Canada, a review was the first step.”

“We will increase our campaigning to ensure Lifeblood has access to the latest medical evidence from countries that have reformed their policies and to ensure it hears the voices of those who are currently and wrongly excluded from blood donation.”

“Our objective is a blood supply that is plentiful, safe and non-discriminatory.”

Currently in Australia, gay men, and bisexual men, trans women and some nonbinary people who have sex with men, are excluded from donating blood unless they abstain from sex for three months.

Recently, the US Food and Drug Administration announced it is considering individual risk assessment.

Tasmanian Federal Liberal Bridget Archer recently raised the issue in Parliament. The Tasmanian MP said she was in no way demonising the work done by Lifeblood, but she believed that there was s ginificant research showing that they could take an approach that screened all donors regardless of their gender or sexual orientation.

Lifeblood has previously said it will pursue a “plasma pathway” to allow donation by men who have sex with men before to it moves on to individual risk assessment, but the service has now announced work will begin on accessing the viability of individual risk assessment.

Lifeblood say they will undertake a two-year research program to assess whether an individual risk assessment approach could work safely in Australia.

In the announcement they highlight that relevant experts and interest-groups will be invited to participate in an advisory group to plan the program, which will assess community acceptance of the changes required as well as any impacts on donor numbers.

“Lifeblood wants change on this rule too, and we are working on it as a priority.” the organisation said in a statement.

A spokesperson for Lifeblood previously told OUTinPerth that the organsiation is actively pushing for changes to the donation rules for plasma, which will prove a pathway for gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men to participate in the donation program.

Lifeblood highlighted that plasma donations areĀ needed by thousands of Aussies each week to fight cancer and kidney disease, to prevent critical bleeding in accidents and trauma, and to help those with immune and blood disorders to live normal lives.

The organisation has repetitively stated that people should be patient and understand that it takes a great deal of time for their processes and policies to change. Lifeblood say the Australian Human Rights Commission has indicated that their policies banning people from donating blood based upon their sexuality does not contravene the law.

While many have welcomed the plasma pathway being pursued, Rodney Croome said this approach was adopted and then abandoned by countries like Canada that then moved on to individual risk assessment for whole blood.

“Our goal is individual risk assessment for whole blood, not half measures that fail to increase the supply of safe whole blood and that perpetuate discrimination.” Croome said.

OIP Staff

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