GLEN Welcomes Minister's New Approach To Lifetime Blood Ban


GLEN welcomes comments by the Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar, that the lifetime ban for gay and bisexual men donating blood should be reduced to 12 months.


The Gay and Lesbian Equality Network (GLEN) has welcomed the Health Minster Leo Varadkar’s consideration of the reduction of the lifetime ban for gay and bisexual men to 12 months.

Leo Varadkar – who recently came out as a gay man – received a policy paper from the Irish Blood Transfusion Service setting out potential approaches to the lifetime ban.

The ban was introduced in 1985 as part of a worldwide response to the HIV and Aids epidemic.

Tiernan Brady, policy director with GLEN said the Minister’s comments represented a significant new approach.

“It is 30 years since the introduction of the lifetime ban on gay and bisexual men. It was introduced at a time of international fear and lack of knowledge about Aids and HIV. In the subsequent years, science has made major advances in understanding, identifying and treating HIV and it is right that we take those scientific advances into account.”

The Minister will now refer it to Chief Medical Officer of the Department of Health for recommendations.

He continued: “The priority is that there is a safe blood supply which has the confidence of the general public. An essential part of that is keeping up to date with the scientific developments. […] Across the world, countries are removing or modifying their policies around blood donation by gay and bisexual men in light of scientific developments and it is very positive news that Ireland is changing its policy now as well.”

He hopes that the removal of the ban will destigmatise gay and bisexual men.

“There can be no doubt that the blanket lifetime ban has stigmatised gay and bisexual men. The removal of the ban represents a significant step forward in addressing that stigma and is to be welcomed.”

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