Anova welcomes lifting of gay blood donor 'ban'

Published: May 29, 2014

Health4Men is an innovative project of Anova Health Institute addressing men’s diverse sexual health needs through free medical and psychosocial services specifically aimed at men. Services are particularly aimed at vulnerable and marginalized men, including men who have sex with men (MSM), youth, commercial sex workers and men from disadvantaged communities.

The African continent has been clouded in a lot of anti-gay news of late. The announcement by the South African National Blood Service (SANBS) lifting the ban on sexually active gay men donating blood brings a welcome ray of sunshine to the LGBTI community in South Africa.

In the past gay men or MSM were only allowed to donate blood if they had been celibate for 6 months or longer, as they were seen as being at high risk for being HIV positive. The South African HIV epidemic is primarily a heterosexual one, so the SANBS’ policy was criticized as being discriminatory.

A press release was issued by the SANBS including the following:
“With this amendment, the question on male to male sex (MSM) has been removed from the donor questionnaire. With effect from the 5th of May 2014, the new questionnaire will address sexual risk, in that any sexual act or contact with a NEW partner/s during the preceding six months will be deemed a risk to the safety of blood supply, irrespective of the personal sexual orientation or preference.”

People in monogamous relationships irrespective of their sexual orientation will be able to donate blood. People with multiple partners or a new partner/s will not be able to donate blood irrespective of their sexual orientation.

Hopefully this will help to educate society and at the same time be able to assist with the serious demand for blood. Today, Vanessa Raju, SANBS Communications Manager, confirmed the shortfall. The ideal is to get 3 000 units of blood/day which equals 5 days of blood, but currently they only have 2.8 days of blood available. Getting healthy gay men or MSM to donate blood could increase this pool considerably.

 

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