Denmark’s new blood donation rules are a ‘positive move’ according to the country’s health minister Magnus Heunicke. Similarly to the majority of countries worldwide, Denmark introduced laws which banned gay and bisexual men from donating blood for life in the 1980s during the height of the AIDS epidemic. However, Denmark is taking steps to change this unfair and unjust rule based on ignorance and fear.
The Denmark government announced back in August of last year that the regulations for blood donation would change and now under the new government will be honoured, with the new rule expected to be implemented in March of 2020. The new guidelines lift the lifelong ban and will allow gay and bisexual men to donate blood if they abstain from sex for four months.
Denmark’s Minister of Health confirmed these amendments in a letter sent to parliamentary committees. Heunicke writes; “The introduction of blood donation for MSM [men who have sex with men] is a positive move. With the four-month probation period, Denmark will be among the most progressive countries in the world with regard to blood donation for MSM.”
The Minister went on to explain that there is no research that indicated that the four-month wait time is necessary and so although the new rule is seen as a progressive step, further relaxation of the newly imposed rule in the future is welcomed.
Similarly, Blood Donation in Denmark also welcome the change as reliable testing for HIV and AIDS makes the previous lifelong ban now considered unnecessary. Blood Donation general secretary Flemming Bøgh-Sørensen explained that “a permanent ban made sense at the time it was implemented”, but this is no longer the case and the strict rules can now be amended without risk to patient safety.
Denmark joins the small but growing list of countries that have now relaxed on blood donation rules for gay and bisexual men. The Republic of Ireland has lifted the lifetime ban, however, yet a year deferral period is still required for gay and bisexual men who wish to give blood. Although strives are being made, it is still simply not enough, lifetime ban or not, the rules surrounding queer men and blood donation are solely based around sexual orientation and only reinforce the stigma around HIV and AIDS.
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