A group of queer student activists is calling on the Therapeutic Goods Administration and the Australian Red Cross to end their “homophobic” policy of banning blood donations from gay and bi men.
Current policy sees any men who have had same-sex sexual contact deferred from donating blood for 12 months.
“We are campaigning towards a more nuanced approach, one based upon individual risk assessment or a shortening of the deferral period.”
The group is running an online petition to push for the change in policy.
The purpose of the policy is to ensure HIV and STIs are not spread via blood donations during the window period after transmission where they can’t yet be detected.
Let Us Donate argued that the window period for STIs is no longer than three months for these infections, and called the 12-month deferral period “discriminatory and outdated”.
“Blood donation policy must be based on the best contemporary evidence,” said Darryl O’Donnell, CEO of the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations.
“We need to ensure the absolute safety of blood products, while not needlessly excluding those who wish to donate.
“The 12-month deferral period for gay and bisexual men is unnecessarily long, and is not consistent with expert evidence.”
The Australian Red Cross has stated, “The underlying principle on which people give blood has to be one of mutual trust.”
“This trust must be extended to the hundreds of thousands of queer persons it excludes for donating blood,” said organisers from Let Us Donate.