The Aussie Let Us Give campaign today welcomed a proposal from US blood authorities to remove that country’s gay blood ban and adopt individual risk assessment.
The group called on Australia’s Red Cross Blood Service to move quickly to adopt the same policy. Previously, the Red Cross said it will take two years to review Australia’s gay blood ban.
Multiple US news sources report the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) wants to follow UK and Canadian reforms. Those countries dropped the requirement for gay and bisexual men, transgender women and some non-binary people who have sex with men, to remain sexually abstinent for three months before giving blood.
Instead, the FDA proposed asking all donors, regardless of sexuality or gender, whether they have had anal sex with a new partner in the last three months.
Let Us Give
Thomas Buxerea, spokesperson for Let Us Give, said the current Australian policy created confusion.
“Medical evidence shows replacing the current gay ban with individual risk assessment will not make the blood supply less safe. However, it will open up a new source of safe blood.
“If Australia is out of step with the UK, Canada and the US, it will create confusion in Australia about who can donate and who can’t.
“The Australian Red Cross Lifeblood Service doesn’t need two years to conduct a review.
“There is ample evidence available for the Red Cross to act quickly.”
The Australian Red Cross Lifeblood Service previously raised concerns that individual risk assessment will result in screening out some existing donors. The blood supply would then decrease.
But Dr Sharon Dane, author of a recent review of the current clinical evidence, disagreed that would happen.
“A large-scale study across Canada’s blood collections centres found that less than 1% of existing donors would be deferred by an individual risk assessment policy and this would be made up for by new donors.
“The Canadian study showed conclusively that individual risk assessment does not diminish the blood supply. On that basis, Canada adopted an individual risk assessment policy.”
The US FDA proposal will be open to public consultation before being implemented.
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