The Let Us Give campaign has welcomed Lifeblood's new openness towards allowing gay blood donation.
The Australian Red Cross Lifeblood Service has updated its website, saying, for the first time, that it is working towards gender neutral individual risk assessment for all donors (see text below).
Up until now Lifeblood has championed plasma-only donation for gay and bisexual men and transgender women, and has been non-committal towards whole blood donation under a regime where all donors - gay, straight, cisgender and transgender - are screened for their individual risk.
Let Us Give spokesperson, Dr Sharon Dane, said,
"We are very happy Lifeblood is now openly working towards the position we have been advocating for some time."
"We have repeatedly said the supply of safe blood would be optimised if gay and bi men and trans women are able to donate whole blood under an individual risk assessment regime, as well as being able to donate plasma."
"Lifeblood's previous preference of only allowing plasma donation would have replaced an old form of discrimination with a new form, effectively making gay and bisexual men and trans women second-tier donors."
"Assessing all whole blood donors for their individual risk will ensure there is a new source of safe whole blood and that the blood supply is less discriminatory."
"This is a small but significant step towards the kind of blood equality thousands of gay, bi and trans Australians have been seeking for years."
Currently, gay and bisexual men and transgender women must abstain from sex for three months before donating blood.
The Government has approved a Lifeblood proposal to allow them to donate blood plasma, but not whole blood.
Under the system advocated by Let Us Give, all whole blood donors would be asked the same sexual risk question, specifically, whether they have had anal sex with new or multiple partners in the last three months. They would be allowed to donate if they answer "no".
This system, called individual risk assessment, effectively lifts the current gay blood ban and applies in a number of countries similar to Australia, including Britain, Canada, the US and the Netherlands.
Lifeblood has been researching attitudes towards individual risk assessment among existing donors and how the system works overseas.
"Clearly, Lifeblood's research has shown that individual risk assessment is widely supported and that it works", Dr Dane said.
For an extract from Lifeblood's website, see below.
Attached is a table showing the advantages of whole blood and plasma donation over the plasma-only option currently proposed.
For a copy of this statement on the web, click here
For more information: Dr Sharon Dane 0403 895 268 or Thomas Buxereau, 0415 896 886