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Department looks at options for lifting ban on gay men donating blood

A policy paper being examined sets out options including a total removal of the ban and a time deferral on donation.

Image: blood donation image via Shutterstock

THE DEPARTMENT OF Health is currently examining a policy paper that lays out options for lifting the lifetime ban on gay men donating blood in Ireland.

The report was compiled by the Irish Blood Transfusion Service (IBTS) and sets out a range of options for reviewing the ban on donations including total removal of the ban, a time deferral on donation and a continuation of the existing ban. It was recently handed over to the Department for consideration.

The ban was introduced in 1985 as part of a worldwide response to the emergence of HIV and AIDS. It was announced last month that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the US will move to ease its ban by allowing gay men to donate after a year of abstaining from sex.

Today, Tiernan Brady, policy director with gay rights group GLEN, said this review represented a significant and positive development. He said the original ban was “introduced at a time of international fear and lack of knowledge about AIDs and HIV”.

In the subsequent years science has made major advances in understanding, identifying and treating HIV and it is right that we take those scientific advances into account.

“The priority is that there is a safe blood supply which has the confidence of the general public,” he said. “An essential part of that is keeping up to date with the scientific developments.”

There can be no doubt, according to Brady, that the blanket lifetime ban “continues to stigmatise” gay and bisexual men. This policy document represents “the first real step” in addressing that stigma, he said.

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A Department spokesperson confirmed it had received the policy paper recently and that it is being considered, adding that “it will take time” before any decision is made on this issue.

Read: Gay men will be allowed give blood in the US… after abstaining from sex for a year>

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