Donation not discrimination for gay and bisexual blood donors
The National Blood Service asks potential donors whether they have had sex (protected or unprotected) with another man. If a donor answers 'yes' to this, they are effectively banned from giving blood for life. This does not take into account their current lifestyle, and therefore the suitability of their blood.
Women who have sex with a a practising gay or bisexual man are only banned from giving blood for a period of 1 year. This year long period is significantly greater than the 'waiting window' where the HIV virus is undetectable in the blood.
It is worth noting that all blood is screened for the presence of HIV, but because the waiting window is about 3 months, then this test cannot check for HIV infections that had occured in the 3 months before donation.
This policy is homophobic because:
- It enforces a blanket ban on gay and bisexual men regardless of present lifestyle (ie. you could not have had sex in the last year - way past the waiting window - but still be banned from giving blood)
- It allows high-risk heterosexuals to give blood but potentially bans low-risk homosexuals.
- It assumes that sexual identity, not sexual practices makes people high-risk, and perpetuates the myth that HIV/AIDS is a gay disease.
Some countries have lifted the ban on gay and bisexual men giving blood, and actually decreased the risk of getting HIV from blood transfusions.
The Donation not Discrimination campaign is ran by the National Union of Students (NUS) LGBT campaign.
Thurs 8th May 2008
Thanks a lot to everyone who turned up and/or signed our petition. The event went brilliantly, the staff were helpful and the public were (mostly) happy to listen to us. It went really well! We ended up being interviewed live on BCB local radio, and there's going to be a thing on it in the T&A, probably tomorrow. We gave out 150 leaflets, received 85 signatures on our petition, and better, got 8 people to give blood on the day, 7 of whom were first time donors and only 3 of whom we arranged beforehand. Well done particularly to Valeska who got over her fear of needles and blood to donate on our behalf (she said afterwards that it went really well so let that inspire you if you're nervous too. ;) ) Great day all round.
We're planning November's one now… :D
Article09052008 - Printed Article
Students call for end to blood ban
University of Bradford students have converged on the city's blood donor centre to call for donation not discrimination'.
The students, members of the University's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans Society, say the current National Blood Service policy, which bans gay and bisexual men from giving blood for life, is archaic and should be reviewed.
Yesterday's protest was part of a campaign by the National Union of Students (NUS), which believes the policy of asking men if they have ever had ++unprotected sex with another man is homophobic.
The campaign, outside the blood donor centre in Rawson Road, saw students encouraging friends, fellow students and passers-by to donate blood in place of the district's gay and bisexual men.
Student Josh Bradley, 19, was one of those protesting. He said: "We had a really successful day and handed out about 150 leaflets.
"We got eight people to give blood for us, seven of whom were first time donors. We have also managed to collect 72 signatures on our petition campaigning for an end to the ban."
Josh said the policy was homophobic because it did not take into account whether sex was protected or how long ago sexual activity took place.
"This gives a somewhat contradictory message about the use of condoms in sexual acts," he said. "If sex is safe and consensual, the argument is it should be considered low risk, no matter the genders of the people involved.
"A man who experimented safely with same-sex relationships 20 years ago would be banned from giving blood, whilst a promiscuous heterosexual man would be free to give blood."
A spokesman for the National Blood Service said it had a duty to ensure a supply of safe blood.
"This includes a clear responsibility to minimise the risk of a blood transfusion transmitting an infection to patients," she said.
"In order to assure the continued safety of the blood supply, we currently ask those in groups shown to have a high risk of carrying blood-borne viruses not to give blood.
"Men who have sex with men continue to be disproportionately affected by HIV and account for 63 per cent of HIV diagnoses where the infection was likely to have been acquired in the UK.
"The reason for this exclusion rests on specific sexual behaviour rather than sexuality. There is no exclusion of gay men who have never had sex with a man nor of women who have sex with women."
To find out more about who can give blood visit blood.co.uk.
e-mail: claire.lomax @telegraphandargus.co.uk
++This is incorrect and we have asked for a correction!