REVISED GAY BLOOD BAN SLAMMED AS "WINDOW DRESSING"
ADVOCATES CALL FOR FOCUS ON UNSAFE SEX NOT GAY SEX
"A three-month celibacy rule for gay blood donation is such a weak and ineffective response to the pandemic even the Trump administration has adopted it." - Rodney Croome
Equality advocates have called for the removal of the ban on gay blood donation, labelling the proposed reduction of the celibacy period after which gay men can give blood to three months "window dressing".
The Red Cross Blood Service, Lifeblood, has announced the blood donation governing body, the Therapeutic Goods Administration, has agreed to reduce the period gay men must abstain from sex before giving blood from twelve months to three (text below).
The decision must now be approved by all federal, state and territory governments with a potential start date later this year.
Spokesperson for national LGBTIQ advocacy group, just.equal, Rodney Croome said,
"The new three month celibacy rule will not significantly increase the amount of safe blood available for transfusion because it leaves most gay men who are safe to give blood still unable to donate."
"At a time of crisis when blood shortages are looming, it is vital that all Australians who are not at risk of passing on blood-borne diseases are able to donate, including those gay men who are not at risk."
"The risk of HIV transmission through blood transfusion arises from unsafe sex, not gay sex, so we urge the TGA and the Red Cross Lifeblood service to adopt a new policy of screening all donors for the safety of their sexual activity rather than the gender of their sexual partner."
"Imposing a celibacy period on all sexually-active gay men before we can donate blood is a hangover from the 1980s when HIV transmission was less well understood, tests for the virus were less reliable and being gay was synonymous with having AIDS."
"Those days are long-gone and our blood screening policy should be updated accordingly."
Mr Croome said the reduced deferral period is not a step forward.
"The new deferral will not significantly increase the amount of safe blood available for transfusion."
"At best the new celibacy period is window dressing to make a bad policy look better."
"A three-month celibacy rule for gay blood donation is such a weak and ineffective response to the pandemic even the Trump administration has adopted it."
"It may actually entrench the notion that gay men pose a special threat to public health by making the ban on our blood seem less unreasonable."
According to a statement released today by the Red Cross Lifeblood service:
"We are pleased that the TGA has approved our submission to reduce this postponement to three months from a regulatory perspective. Our proposal will now be considered by all Australian governments."
More here: https://www.donateblood.com.au/sexual-activity-deferral-review
For this statement on the web, click here
For more information contact Rodney Croome on 0409 010 668.