Denmark is moving to modernise its blood donation laws which will see gay and bisexual men no longer be banned from giving blood.
Danish Health Minister Ellen Trane Nørby announced that gay and bi men who haven’t had sex for four months will be allowed to donate.
“The authority [patient safety] has found a model we feel is safe and we will therefore incorporate it into Denmark,” Nørby said.
“All safety mechanisms in our blood donation system are built on trust and we have some very advanced tests that screen the blood.”
Men who have sex with men (MSM) were previously banned entirely from donating blood, while in Australia the deferral period for MSM is 12 months.
A campaign was launched earlier this year to draw attention to blood donation bans and restrictions which prevent chiefly gay and bisexual men from giving blood.
“We need to ensure the absolute safety of blood products, while not needlessly excluding those who wish to donate,” AFAO CEO Daryl O’Donnell said last year.
“The 12-month deferral period for gay and bisexual men is unnecessarily long, and is not consistent with expert evidence.”
Nic Holas, founder of The Institute of Many – Australia’s largest platform for people living with HIV – wrote for the Star Observer last year about the need to connect the fight to end HIV with the restrictions placed on blood donation.
“A portion of our community is more focused on outward respectability than our community’s health and wellbeing,” he said.
“I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating: the most inclusive, ethical way to allow gay or bi men to donate blood is to end HIV.
“Anything else is a slap in the face for those of us living with the virus, an insult to the decades of activism and organising, and a forgetting of those lost to the AIDS crisis.
“We’re still here, and we’re not going to be pushed aside in the quest to make gay men seem more respectable. That isn’t equality, it’s erasure.
“You should be able to donate blood. You should also be able to live free of fear of contracting HIV, of your friends contracting HIV, of finally being clear of decades of intergenerational fear and stigma. The latter would lead to the former. So why not join, or rejoin, the fight?”