LET US GIVE ASKS HEALTH MINISTERS TO DITCH PLASMA-ONLY DONATION FOR GAY MEN AND ALLOW WHOLE BLOOD DONATION
To mark National Blood Donor Week
the Let Us Give campaign has written to all of Australia's health ministers asking them to drop the gay blood ban entirely instead of only allowing plasma donation for gay men.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration recently approved an application from the Red Cross Lifeblood Service to allow men who have sex with men (MSM) to donate plasma, but not whole blood. The proposal now goes to all health ministers, plus the private blood company CSL Behring, for approval.
Let Us Give spokesperson, Thomas Buxereau said,
"We have written to federal, state and territory health ministers outlining why the plasma-only option is not a solution to either the shortage of whole blood or the discrimination faced by those currently not allowed to donate at all."
"Israel and Canada both trialled the plasma-only option but quickly abandoned the idea and moved on to assessing all donors for their individual risk, a path we endorse for Australia."
"Research from Canada showed gay donors felt the plasma-only option would make them 'second-class donors' by creating a two-tier system. Instead of removing discrimination, plasma-only donation simply served to highlight it. As one participant in the Canadian study explained it would result in an 'us vs. them' system.
"The plasma-only option obviously doesn't address the regular shortages of whole blood, which we believe can be partly alleviated by allowing MSM to donate."
Currently in Australia, gay men, and bisexual men and trans women who have sex with men, are required to be sexually abstinent for three months before they can donate blood.
This policy has been dropped in favour of individual risk assessment in the UK, US, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands and many other countries.
The proposed plasma-only option will allow donation from people who are on PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis).
Mr Buxereau said,
"We welcome people on PrEP being able to donate plasma, but this shouldn't preclude gay and bisexual men, and trans women, from donating whole blood if they are safe to do so. We should have both."
Mr Buxereau went on to question why a private company like CSL Behring has a role to play in making decisions about public health policy in Australia.
"Decisions about public health are generally made by public authorities so we are keen to know what CSL Behring's involvement is?"
Statement from Lifeblood regarding TGA approval and the next steps:
For a copy of this statement on the web, click here
For more information contact Thomas Buxereau on 0415 896 884.