A group of young LGBTQI activists known as Let Us Donate are using a petition to call upon the Therapeutic Goods Association to reconsider the decision to maintain the 12-month blood donation deferral, specifically for men who are sexually active with partners of the same sex.
If you have a peep of the FAQ
on the Red Cross Blood Service
site, the blood bank must defer someone from donating for 12 months if they have:
Had oral or anal sex with another man, even ‘safer sex’ using a condom (if you’re a man)
Had sex (with or without a condom) with a male who you think may have had oral or anal sex (with or without a condom) with another man
Been a male or female sex worker
Had sex with a male or female sex worker
The main reasoning behind this is because of possible HIV and STI infection, which can go undetected for some time after being transmitted between sexual partners.
It’s kinda (read: really) shitty that this seems to target gay & bi men and sex workers, but the Red Cross says that this is purely because of “safety reasons based on medical research”
and not a prejudice to certain communities. (But that’s a whole other conversation, hey.)
Thanks to advancements in medical science and early detection, the time that an infection can be detected has dropped down from 12 months to 12 weeks.
This shorter detection time is the main reason behind Let Us Donate’s petition to change the deferral period from 12 months to four months.
The group see the current donation restrictions as homophobic, as it does not extend the level of trust it places in other people eligible to donate to gay and bisexual men.
Let Us Donate also suggest that the policy be changed to a case-by-case, individual risk assessment, instead of simply blocking every man who has same-sex sexual experiences.
Blood donation saves countless lives, so we really should be trying to get as many people to donate as possible. If there’s ways that we can allow more people to be eligible to give blood, plasma, and platelets, then hell, we should be investigating that.