Review recommends halving gay blood ban

Review recommends halving gay blood ban

A review of Australia’s blood donation guidelines has recommended that the period for which men who have sex with men (MSM) must refrain from having sex before they can donate blood be reduced from 12 to six months.

But LGBTI rights advocates say the new policy will continue to exclude condom-using gay men in committed relationships, while donating heterosexuals will still be able to have as many sexual partners as they want.

The Australian Red Cross Blood Service’s Blood Review Report, released on April 24, found that of the viruses it tests for, Hepatitis C had the longest window of non-detection. It recommended an exclusion period for MSM of double the virus’s 94-day non detection window.

“A deferral period of six months incorporates an empirical safety margin that approximately doubles the length of time of the upper estimate of the HCV testing window period,” the report found.

In relation to HIV among MSM, the committee acknowledged the existence of “a subgroup of MSM who are at low risk of infection such as MSM in monogamous relationships.”

However, as people do not always have honest information from their partners about their fidelity, the committee found that the greater rate of HIV within the MSM community would “introduce an unacceptable risk to the ongoing safety of the blood supply” if MSM were screened based on behaviour rather than orientation.

Hepatitis C is usually spread through intravenous drug use, and it is unclear whether the virus can be sexually transmitted – though a recent Victorian study has suggested that HIV-positive MSM are more susceptible to the virus.

Campaigner Michael Cain, whose Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Commission case sparked the review, said the change would make little difference to the sustainability of Australia’s blood supply.

“The only way to remove discrimination from blood donation and increase the pool of safe blood from donors such as myself is to adopt a policy which screens all donors for the safety of their sexual activity rather than the gender of their partner,” Cain said.

Tasmanian gay rights advocate Rodney Croome, who assisted in Cain’s case, said the review was flawed because it drew on data about rates of HIV among gay men from studies done in sex venues and bars.

“Experts who appeared in Michael Cain’s case made it clear that the data upon which the current ban is based only takes into account people with high HIV risk and ignores the vast bulk of gay men who are at much lower risk.”

“It’s extremely disappointing that the review has replicated this mistake. The only way to resolve this issue is for the Government to commission a truly independent review.”

The Blood Service will now seek to undertake a compliance study in partnership with The University of NSW’s the Kirby Institute.

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9 responses to “Review recommends halving gay blood ban”

  1. I LOVE that they no longer want my blood – it is one of the benefits of being gay and having a partner – I hated donating blood.

  2. Though i dont support the current “ban”…
    Internationally, Japan and South Africa currently have a six month deferral for male donors who have sex with men. In the United States, Canada and much of Europe sexually active gay men cannot donate blood at all, while in the UK and Hungary, a one year deferral is in place.

  3. Oh dear ,MSM ,all Males irrespective of sexual orientation are MSM,last time i had a wank i was a MSM,MSM is about as offensive to a bisexual as you can get BTW,The H in HIV means Human not homosexual BTW,and its spread can ONLY be stopped with a HUMAN response without sexual orientation meaning anything to its treatment.

    Otherwise its each community against all.The fastest growing community infection rates is Now hetrosexual Women ,what “gays” know about hetrosexual women,can be written down on a postage stamp.That goes for lesbians as well,no idea and definitly NOT the people we want in charge of anything to do with Hiv|Aids policy concerning the ENTIRE Community.

    the H in hiv MEANS humaN NOT gay nor lesbian.

  4. So Spanish gay men must be different. The blood ban ended some years ago and they saw an improvement in blood stock quality. They had a campaign focusing on risky practices, from sex tourism to having sex in nightclub toilets, the message was equal. Straight or gay, some people practice unsafe sex, all that is asked is you do not give blood. Not a hard message to sell in Spain, but then again don’t they also have marriage equality…..

  5. Twelve months, six months, one week, it matters not, until everyone is treated equally it is a flawed and discriminatory system. It is a joke that they state about honesty, how about all the people, male and female, that lie to hide their sexual practices but can walk in and donate. Gay men can also do this but for some reason we have a conscience and believe in being honest, plus while they blatantly discriminate they don’t deserve our blood. The only risk that is possibly greater in gay men’s blood compared to straight men’s is alcoholic content. Straight men and women are just as exposed to HIV or Hep C etc as gay men. When are we going to get s grip on reality.

  6. well said Aaron. there’s no bogeyman running around infecting unsuspecting gay guys with HIV.

    we continue to infect each other; we continue to perpetuate the epidemic; we continue to deploy the three wise monkeys act whenever we think it suits us.



  8. Not only do we still have a problem with HIV, it’s getting worse again. The established medical community, free from cultural bias and… um… various other agendas…. is under no illusion that a combined increase in infections, however small (the ratio is still comparatively through the roof though), with a drop in testing rates, means that the problem is back. What’s sad is that, absolutely, it’s going to be re-politicised for obvious reasons. How about instead of reacting by trying homophobia at things like this, we actually… gosh… recognise the problem finally and do something about OURSELVES?!

  9. The stereotypical assumption that all gay men engage in penetrative sex lives on.