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.
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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.