SA FINALLY ENDS GAY BLOOD DONATION BAN
In a victory for fairness and equality, sexually active gay men are now finally allowed to donate blood in South Africa.
In the past, gay men or men who have sex with men (MSM) were seen as being at high risk of being infected with HIV and could only donate blood to the South African National Blood Service (SANBS) if they had been celibate for six months or longer.
The policy was widely criticised as discriminatory because, unlike in Western countries, the HIV epidemic in South Africa is a primarily heterosexual one. The policy was also perceived to unfairly target gay men while allowing heterosexual people who engaged in equally risky or casual sex to donate.
On Tuesday, Vanessa Raju, SANBS Communications Manager, confirmed to Mambaonline that a new non-discriminatory policy had been put in place that favours people in monogamous relationships, regardless of their sexuality.
She said that anyone who has a new sexual partner will not be allowed to donate blood for six months, and that anyone who has multiple partners will not be allowed to donate blood. Both criteria are irrespective of a person’s sexual orientation.
“This policy would apply to me, for example, who’s just started dating someone new,” Raju added. “But people who are in monogamous male same-sex relationships [for more than six months] can now donate.”
She explained that the previous policy had been put in place on the basis of international statistics and trends. “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.
“The policy wasn’t meant to be discriminatory, but it was seen as such,” she admitted. “We then worked closely with the Department of Health and other organisations to reassess the situation.”
Johan Meyer, Health Manager at OUT Well-being in Pretoria, welcomed the news. “This change in the SANBS policy is wonderful and a breakthrough for the LGBTI sector. The previous policy was seen as discriminatory, although it was not meant to be.
“Now everyone, regardless of sexual orientation, is treated the same. It shows the value of good research, which can provide evidence for the basis of policy change,” he said.
Raju noted that June is Blood Donor Month, with June 14th being World Blood Donor Day. “In June our stocks traditionally take a plunge, so come and donate blood,” she urged.
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Very good news…. YIPPY!
SA is apparently the first country in the world to reverse this decision! Well done SA!
O No, the secrect is out ! Once people start receiving ‘gay blood’ they wil have better dress sense, start going to the gym and make fabulous cocktails ! I remembered when I wanted to donate at a company blood donation drive 16 years ago and was honset on the forms and singled out infont of my collagues and told ‘your blood is not useable’ funny how it was usable by my grandfather 4 years later and 1 Mil Hospital did not have enough of our blood type on hand after his operation when complications set in. SA Blood transfusion services will never see me as their customer even if my blood is now suddenly usable after their treatment of my person in 1998
its good news, yes, but the previous policy had been in place for at least 25 years. It went to court and despite that the SANBS refused to change their stance. They also had discriminatory policy against “black blood” and it took Thabo Mbeki himeslf to change that.
In my view they were bunch of racist homophobes. I think an admission of this and an apology would also help.
My wife sent me the link to this wonderful news. However i thought let me go down to our local SANBS and find out for myself. I asked the very friendly lady if its true that their policy`s on gay men donating blood changed. She said gay men can only donate if they been celibate for 6 months and not have anal sex. I then asked and if you monogamous she said no. Then i asked so none of your policy`s changed she said no i said thank you and walked out. I was going to donate blood rite then and there but as a lesbian i will not give blood until they change their policy`s
Brilliant news. It should have happened earlier, but better late than never. In a country like ours with such a good constitution that promotes anti-discrimination, it was necessary. I have put my thoughts on the matter in my blog: Gay Life in South Africa