Senator Fintan Warfield calls on Minister for Health Simon Harris to address ongoing discrimination against MSM by IBTS
Senator Fintan Warfield was “shocked” to learn that the Irish Blood Transfusion Service (IBTS) is continuing to discriminate against men who have sex with men (MSM).
The new IBTS policy restricts MSM from donating blood for one year from their last sexual encounter with another man. This one year deferral replaced the lifetime ban that had been placed on MSM donating blood which was introduced in the 1980s.
The new one year deferral period is, according to the Department of Health, necessary to protect against the threat of ’emerging infections’, infections that scientists might not have been aware of.
5 Year Wait
Furthermore, the Department of Health revealed that if MSM have taken PrEP, the drug which prevents HIV-negative people from contracting the virus, they must wait five years before being able to donate blood again.
Senator Warfield, Sinn Féin’s spokesperson for LGBT rights, called on Minister for Health Simon Harris to address this policy directly.
“I am shocked by the revelations today that the Irish Blood Transfusion Service is practicing such a discriminatory policy,” Senator Warfield said.
“The policy suggests that gay men, and MSM, who are responsible in using contraception, are somehow at ‘high-risk of infection.’
Another Layer of Discrimination
“When I requested that Minister Harris address the Seanad as a matter of urgency, Leader of the Seanad Senator Buttimer refused and suggested deferring the matter to an LGBT working group.
“There is no all-party Oireachtas group focussed on LGBT issues and nor would that group have any remit on this issue,” he said.
“I am calling on Minster Harris to directly address this harmful policy, which places yet another layer of discrimination on gay men who seek to donate blood.”
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