Gay blood donation campaigners say a new Red Cross Blood Service measure to halve the waiting time for donors with piercings and tattoos is unfair.

Tasmanian gay blood donor campaigner Michael Cain, who took the Red Cross Blood Service to the Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Tribunal over its blanket ban on men-who-have-sex-with-men (MSM) donating blood —­ said not reducing the waiting period for MSM was “flawed logic”.

“There’s no reason why their rule on male-to-male sex can’t be changed in line with this,” Cain told Southern Star.

“There’s plenty of evidence to show that a six-month window period is sufficient for screening purposes.

“What they’re effectively saying is gay sex is inherently diseased, but it’s unsafe sex, not gay sex that poses a risk.”

The Red Cross Blood Service will next month introduce improved testing so hepatitis can be detected in its window period after initial laboratory testing when the blood is first taken.

The new reduced waiting time – from a year to six months – will affect those who’ve had acupuncture, body piercings or tattoos.

Blood Service Safety Specialist Dr Tony Keller said the new screening test used “state of the art technology”.

According to the Red Cross the new test doesn’t provide a “significant change” to detecting HIV in the window period.

Cain, however has contested the Red Cross’ claims.

“Epidemiological evidence presented by the Red Cross’ own advisors during my anti-discrimination case on gay blood donation showed that a six-month gay deferral poses no risk to the blood supply,” he said.

Earlier this year, the Red Cross announced it would review its policy on MSM donating blood, however said the review was yet to start.

“A full independent external review will be conducted in 2010 and 2011,” a Red Cross spokeswoman said.

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