South Africa has lifted a controversial ban on gay men donating blood, putting in place new regulations that don’t discriminate based on sexual orientation.
Under the new non-discriminatory policy, all people who have engaged in sex with any new partner will be ineligible to donate blood for six months, regardless of sexual orientation.
Previously, all men who have had sex with a man were not allowed to give blood.
Vanessa Raju of the South African National Blood Service today explained the new policy to the Mamba, “This policy would apply to me, for example, who’s just started dating someone new, but people who are in monogamous male same-sex relationships [for more than six months] can now donate.”
She said that the previous policy, which was considered discriminatory, had been put in place on the basis of international statistics which don’t reflect the HIV epidemic in South Africa. “It took us a while because we didn’t have local facts that warranted changing our policy, although we knew South Africa was different from other countries in terms of risk of HIV,” said Raju.
South African LGBT groups are hailing this as a huge victory for gay rights.
In Ireland, the current policy held by the Irish Blood Transfusion Service (IBTS) bans men who sleep with men (MSM) from donating blood.
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