US adopts Individual Risk Assessment for blood donors


blood donor individual risk assessment

Australian gay blood donation campaigners this week welcomed a US decision to adopt Individual Risk Assessment to determine blood donor eligibility. The change allows gay men to give blood subject to the same conditions as everyone else. A spokesperson for Let Us Give urged Australia to follow suit.

The US Food & Drug Administration’s decision to adopt Individual Risk Assessment ditches the previous three-month abstinence period required before gay men could give blood. Instead, medical authorities will question all blood donors about sexual risk — regardless of sexual orientation.

The UK, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Argentina and many other countries now employ a similar individual risk assessment.

But in Australia, the Red Cross Lifeblood Service has no plans to allow safe gay men to donate whole blood.

Blood Plasma

Instead, Lifeblood wants to continue the ban on gay and bisexual men, and trans women who have sex with men, from donating whole blood. Instead, it would like them to be able to give blood plasma.

Let Us Give spokesperson, Thomas Buxereau, said the organisation applauded the US  reform. He called on Australia’s blood authorities to do the same.

“Allowing blood donations from gay men, and bisexual men, and trans women who have sex with men, who are safe to give, will mean a new source of safe blood for those Australians in need.”

“Australian gay, bisexual and trans people who are currently blocked from donating blood want to be able to save lives in the same way as our counterparts in the UK, Canada and the US.”

Researcher Dr Sharon Dane said Lifeblood continues to resist individual risk assessment. She said the service claims asking heterosexual donors about their sexual history may deter them.

“The international evidence has shown this is not the case.

“Rather than allowing whole blood donation by gay men, bisexual men, and trans women who have sex with men, Lifeblood wants to only allow plasma donation.

“But this does not address the regular shortages of whole blood and still means gay, bisexual and trans people are not treated equally.

“Canada and Israel trialled plasma donation for gay men but quickly abandoned those trials and moved on to equal treatment for all donors.

“The so-called ‘plasma pathway’ is a dead-end Australia should not go down.”

For the latest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) news in Australia, visit qnews.com.au. Check out our latest magazines or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

Destiny Rogers

Destiny Rogers embarked on her career in the media industry immediately after high school, initially joining Mirror News, which later evolved into News Ltd. She fondly recalls editing Ian Byford's 'Passing Glances: A History of Gay Cairns' as one of her most fulfilling projects. Additionally, Destiny co-researched and co-wrote 'The Queen's Ball', chronicling the history of the world's longest-running continuous queer event. Her investigative work on the history of Australia's COON Cheese and Edward Coon culminated in the publication 'COON: More Holes than Swiss Cheese', a collaborative effort with Dr. Stephen Hagan. Destiny's journey at QNews began as a feature writer, and she was subsequently elevated to the role of Managing Editor of QNews Magazine in 2018. However, in July 2022, she decided to resign from this role to refocus on research and feature writing. For contact, please reach out at destinyr@qnews.com.au.

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