Health

Dec 18, 2017

The world is changing the rules on gay men giving blood. Will Australia follow?

An outdated restriction on gay blood donors is being substantially relaxed in the UK, with calls for reform that could open up a badly needed pool of new donors.

Man donating blood

This year’s nationwide blood shortages, particularly with regards to O-type blood, have left many gay Australian men still questioning their ineligibility to donate.

Activists and lobby groups are seeking change to the clause stating “men who have sex with men are not eligible to donate blood for 12 months since their last sexual contact with a man” in the Australian Red Cross Blood Service’s current eligibility criteria.

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6 comments

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6 thoughts on “The world is changing the rules on gay men giving blood. Will Australia follow?

  1. AR

    … coz normal people don’t lie.

  2. MJM

    Until 1990 I was a very regular blood donor. At new year 1991 I visited the UK. BSE had been a problem but seemed to be under control by then. Nevertheless I was not able to donate blood after that visit. And now I am too old.

  3. SM

    I was an injecting drug user for a while, but have been a good Vegemite for nearly 20 years. I never shared needles, was scrupulous about hygiene, and have been tested numerous times for blood borne viruses. I have none.

    Unfortunately, the Red Cross’ rules around blood donation are even sillier for ex-drug users than they are for men who have sex with men. Given the stigma attached to injecting drug use, I doubt there will be any push to change their position any time soon.

  4. mikeb

    Maybe you could have 2 grades of blood donor:
    1 – Declared no man to man sex or needle use.
    2 – Confirmed man to man sex or needle use.
    If blood transfusion is required you could choose which grade you want to receive. (default position is grade 1).

    ps – sarcasm filter required.

  5. Carol Ey

    I agree that the blood donation constraints for gay men are not reasonable but at least they have some scientific basis in that HIV is transmitted through blood. On the other hand, the exclusion of those of us who resided in the UK for a few months is not based on any evidence. I know a number of people who are not permitted to give blood on this basis including one who left the UK for Australia as a one-year old who had never eaten meat. I have two children (born after my husband and I spent a year in the UK) who are regular blood donors, but their parents are prohibited from donating – presumably the assumption is that “mad cow” can’t cross the placenta. If the Australian blood donation authorities are correct in excluding us, I am surprised that mad cow disease is not rampant among blood recipients in the UK, given that many UK blood donors would not meet the Australian requirements.

    1. Scubaal

      Yep. I am a vegetarian who grew up in the UK and cannot donate in Australia.
      It’s crazy stuff when there is a shortage of blood. In the UK I was a regular donor for years. Haven’t donated since emigrating here 30 years ago. Obviously the UK solved the problem as otherwise they’d have no donors at all, so why not Oz?

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