The UK gay blood ban was lifted on Monday, coinciding with the World Blood Donor Day campaign this week. Equality advocates are using the opportunity to apply pressure to the Australian Lifeblood Service to follow suit. 

Just.Equal Australia spokesperson, Rodney Croome, said, “The UK approach is win-win because it means there will be more safe blood for those in need, and less stigma and discrimination faced by those gay, bisexual and transgender people who have been unfairly excluded.”

“Risk of infection with HIV and other diseases through blood transfusion arises from the safety of a donor’s sexual activity, not the gender of their sexual partner, and the UK policy recognises this fact by shifting to an assessment of each individual’s risk.”

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“We urge the Australian Lifeblood Service to lift its gay ban as soon as possible so that Australians in need can benefit from more safe blood and so there is less unnecessary discrimination in obtaining that blood.”

As reported in the Star Observer in October last year, it was announced at the time that Australia was changing it’s draconian 12 month celibacy rule, which went into effect in January this year. That change now means that Australian Men who have Sex with Men (MSM) only need to be able to sign that they’ve had three months of celibacy, meaning abstaining from anal or oral sex, before they can give blood. 

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Unfortunately, you’re out of luck if you’re a MSM who happens to be on PrEP, with the Australian Lifeblood Service website noting “if you’re taking pre-exposure HIV prophylaxis (PrEP) you’ll need to wait 12 months since your last dose before you can donate. This is because there is evidence that shows PrEP impacts the ability of our tests to pick up early HIV infection”

UK Gay Blood Ban gone

United Kingdom has changed its rules and “All blood donors who have had one sexual partner and who have been with their sexual partner for more than three months, will now be eligible to donate regardless of their gender, the gender of their partner, or the type of sex they have.”

Under previous rules in the UK, all men who have sex with men had to abstain from sex for three months in order to donate.

Croome wants the rules in Australia to align more closely with the UK model, which takes an individual risk assessment approach to accepting blood donations.

Croome said that, “in the wake of developments in the UK and other countries we will increase our advocacy in Australia.”

“Our goal is to have the blanket ban on gay blood donation lifted well before World Blood Donation Day 2022, and replaced with a new policy of screening all donors for the safety of their sexual activity.”

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