GOV'T OFFICIALS: AUSTRALIANS TOO PRUDISH TO LIFT GAY BLOOD BAN
Australians are more prudish than Canadians or Britons...that's the latest reason the Australian authorities have given for not allowing gay blood donation.
Australia requires gay men, and bisexual men and trans women who have sex with men, to abstain from sex for three months before giving blood.
The Let Us Give campaign wants that policy replaced with a question for all donors about risky sexual activity including anal sex with a new partner, which is the question asked of all donors in the UK, Canada and a number of other countries. This apporach is called "individual risk assessment".
But according to the Australian Government agency overseeing blood donation, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), questions about anal sex would offend enough existing heterosexual donors to "negatively affect the number of donations."
Let Us Give spokesperson, Thomas Buxereau, said,
"Of all the nonsensical reasons for not adopting individual risk assessment, this has to be the most ridiculous."
"A question about anal sex has not deterred a significant number of existing heterosexual donors in Canada, the UK, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Greece, Argentina or any other country with individual risk assessment."
"It is absurd to think Australians are more prudish than people from countries that have adopted individual risk assessment."
Mr Buxereau said a recent study across all of Canada's blood collection centres found less than 1% of existing donors would be deferred from donating under a policy of individual risk assessment, a tiny deficit made up for by new gay donors.
The new reason for not allowing gay blood donation was revealed this afternoon during a Senate Estimates hearing.
Greens Senator, Janet Rice, asked Prof John Skerritt of the TGA about individual risk assessment.
Prof Skerritt said he was aware of policies adopted in the UK and other countries but then said the Australian Lifeblood Service was reluctant to consider individual risk assessment because,
"...in an Australian context there would be a number of people offended by that question (about anal sex), and it would negatively affect the number of donations."
For Guardian Live coverage of today's blood donation debate see attached photos.
For a copy of this statement on the web, click here here
For more information contact Thomas Buxereau on 0415 896 884.