International research shows Australia can safely drop the gay blood ban. A report by Dr Sharon Dane recommends the country instead adopt a policy of individual risk assessment. Dr Dane says that would subsequently increase the available supply of safe blood.
Countries including the UK, the Netherlands, Israel and Argentina previously moved to individual risk assessment. France and Germany plan to soon follow suit.
The quantitative researcher undertook a review of current data and modelling on behalf of LGBTIQ+ advocacy organisation, Just.Equal Australia. She compared gay blood bans to individual risk assessment policies.
“There is no meaningful risk attached to lifting the current abstinence requirement for blood donation by men, and trans women, who have sex with men and replacing it with a new policy of screening donors for their individual sexual safety.”
The modelling reviewed by Dr Dane suggests this would then increase the amount of safe blood available.
Just.Equal on the gay blood ban
Just.Equal Australia spokesperson, Rodney Croome said the report provides strong evidence for the safety and the benefits of change.
“For many years LGBTIQ+ Australians have known that the ban on many of our community members giving blood, is outdated, stigmatising and counterproductive.
“Now we have clear international evidence and precedents that point Australia in the direction it must go.”
Mr Croome said Just.Equal forwarded the report to the Australian Red Cross Lifeblood Service and the Therapeutic Goods Administration. Additionally, Just.Equal sent the report to all state and federal health ministers urging them to act.
“We are confident a Red Cross Lifeblood review of the international scene would result in the same recommendation as ours.”
The Red Cross instituted the gay blood ban in the 1980s during the AIDS crisis.
The ban applies to all sexually-active gay men, as well as sexually-active bisexual men and transgender women who have sex with men, including those in a long-term relationship with their partner.
Earlier this year the Australian Red Cross Lifeblood Service reduced the abstinence period for gay men, and bi men and trans women who have sex with men. The service lowered the requirement from twelve to three months.
NEW PETITION LAUNCHED
To coincide with the release of Dr Dane’s report, Just.Equal Australia recently launched a new petition.
It calls on the Red Cross Lifeblood Service and the Therapeutic Goods Administration to adopt international best practice. That would involve dropping the current abstinence period for gay men, and bi men and trans women who have sex with men, and adopt individual risk assessment instead.
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