The Tribunal hearing the gay ban discrimination case against the Australian Red Cross Blood Service has subpoenaed further testimony from the Red Cross’s former epidemiology adviser.
Professor John Kaldor from the National Centre in HIV Epidemiology and Clinical Research at UNSW no longer advises the Red Cross but supported its 12-month gay ban to maintain public confidence.
However, the full 12 months was conservative, he admitted, because a new HIV infection just nine days old would be detected during blood screening.
From a strictly medical basis, only anal sex needed a deferral at all, but a ban on all gay sex would help public confidence, he said.
Kaldor added that STI rates other than HIV were not a good justification for a gay blood ban.
Tasmanian Gay and Lesbian Rights Group spokesman Rodney Croome said Kaldor’s HIV-related research had limited usefulness in determining risk because it was focused on groups of gay men that were drawn primarily from bars and bathhouses.
This is not a representative sample and its high HIV rates should not be the basis of banning all gay men from blood donation, Croome said.
Michael Cain, who is HIV-negative, brought the case to the Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Tribunal after being told he could not donate blood in 2003 because he was in a same-sex relationship.
During hearings in August witnesses for the Red Cross claimed that kissing was enough fluid contact to qualify as sex.