No timeline yet for easing of gay blood donor restrictions


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Gay and bisexual men may still face a lengthy wait before long-standing restrictions on them donating blood are eased.

Currently, Australia’s Lifeblood donation service refuses gay blood donors who have had sex with men in the past 12 months.

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However last month, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) approved Lifeblood’s proposal to lower that deferral period to three months since last sexual contact.

The health regulator’s recommendation must now go to all Australian governments for final approval, which will take time.

Asked about the discussions and a possible timeline, a Queensland Health spokesperson told QNews.com.au, “We will work with other jurisdictions to consider this matter and to agree on a way forward for implementation by Lifeblood of the TGA’s decision.

“Queensland Health is very aware of the critical importance of blood donation and blood products to our health system. We very much appreciate all who donate.

“We support making donating blood as safe, easy and accessible as possible.”

Other states, including New South Wales and Western Australia, have indicated support for the changes.

Changes to gay blood donor policy ‘critical’ during COVID-19 pandemic

Last month, the NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby called on all governments to implement the TGA’s recommendations as soon as possible.

“During the current public health crisis, it is especially critical that Australians continue to donate blood,” convenor Jack Whitney said.

A recent study found 78 per cent of gay and bisexual Australian men would donate blood if allowed. However, they don’t in order to comply with the current 12-month abstinence restriction.

The TGA’s recommendation follows similar moves in the UK, Canada and the USA to reduce the deferral time to three months.

LGBTIQ advocates argue that the changes will likely make little difference for sexually active gay men. They argue authorities can safely ease restrictions even further, due to huge strides in HIV testing.

Advocacy groups just.equal and PFLAG are calling for a “more effective” blood donation policy focusing on “safety of sexual activity, rather than gender of sexual partner.”

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