Just.Equal calls for Australia to abandon gay blood donor ban

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An urgent appeal for more blood donations has reinvigorated debate about Australia’s blood donor policy.

A surge in cases of flu and COVID-19 has seen the nation’s stock of blood fall to critical levels.

This week, Lifeblood is calling on 17,500 Australians to roll up their sleeve

The shortage has been attributed to appointment cancellations due to the cold and flu season.

However, LGBTQIA+ Advocacy group Just.Equal said allowing gay men to donate would help solve the blood supply crisis. 

Just.Equal is campaigning for Australia to follow the path of other countries by adopting a blood donor policy that focusses on risky sexual activity, not the gender of sexual partner. 

Calls for Australia to adopt individual risk assessment

Last week, Austria joined the UK, Canada, France and Germany by lifting the donor ban on men who have sex with men.  

“Those countries have dropped their old ban on blood donation by gay and bisexual men, and trans women who have sex with men, and instead assess every donor for individual risk,” Just.Equal Australia spokesperson Rodney Croome said. 

“By our estimate, the adoption of individual risk assessment in Australia would result in an extra 25,000 litres a year.”

Mr Croome said individual risk assessment would also help identify heterosexual people who are at high risk.   

“This is particularly important at a time when rates of HIV among heterosexual Australians is increasing,” he said. 

“Individual risk assessment is a win/win because it removes discrimination and increases the supply of safe blood.”

Just.Equal commissioned its own report to examine the medical evidence surrounding MSM blood donation. 

The report can be found at equal.org.au/recommendations_msm_blood_donor_deferrals

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