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Health Minister Leo Varadkar wants to lift the ban on gay men donating blood

The minister wants to see the ban replaced with a 12 month deferral period.
Jan 25th 2015, 10:50 AM 13,955 120

MINISTER FOR HEALTH Leo Varadkar is in favour of lifting the ban on men who’ve had sex with another man donating blood.

The ban was introduced in 1985 as part of the worldwide response to the emergence of HIV and AIDS but campaigners say it is outdated and stigmatises gay and bisexual men.

The minister is in favour of replacing the lifetime ban with a 12-month deferral period. This would mean gay or bisexual men could donate blood if they haven’t had sexual relations with another man in the past year.

The minister’s favouring of the change does not mean that it will definitely happen with discussions to be held with the HSE’s chief medical officer.

The Irish Blood Transfusion Service (IBTS) produced a report for the minister in which it outlined a number of options on the future of the ban. Either to maintain it, scrap it or introduce the deferral period.

Speaking publicly about being gay last week, the minister said one of the reasons he felt he wanted to go public about his sexuality was because this issue was to become topical after the IBTS report to him.

LGBT rights campaigners Glen have welcomed the minister’s stated stance on the ban, saying that it is not needed.

“The priority is that there is a safe blood supply which has the confidence of the general public,” says Glen’s Tiernan Brady.

“The initial lifetime ban was a blanket approach which was taken at a time when there was very little knowledge about HIV and AIDS. Across the world countries are removing or modifying their policies around blood donation by gay and bisexual men in light of scientific developments and it is very positive news that Ireland is changing its policy now as well.”

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

Read: Tracing The Blood Line: Here’s what happens to your blood after you donate >

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Rónán Duffy

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