Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Court to allow homosexual men donate blood

Early in the HIV/AIDS crisis, gay men were banned from ever giving blood because they were more likely to have the HIV virus and the policy remains in place in France, U.S, Israel, Ireland and most European countries till date.

However, for years, gay rights activists have been clamoring for a change to the policy because it's discriminatory and 'homophobic' seeing HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C is easily detected with current testing methods. Meanwhile, proponents of the lifetime restriction say there is a high risk of false negative test results which could jeopardize health of recipients.

With passing years, the policy has slowly changed with gay men being allowed to donate blood if they meet certain requirements like, avoiding sex with other men for periods ranging from 1-5 years.

Frenchman Geoffrey Leger recently protested France's ban, and his complaint reached the Luxembourg-based EU court. The court found that France's law is "liable to discriminate against male homosexuals on the basis of sexual orientation," which is against EU policy.

But it said lifetime bans may be justified if a donor presents a high risk of acquiring severe infectious diseases and there is no other method to protect blood recipients.

Question is, how do we differentiate those who do not engage in high risk sex or who stopped having sex with other men for the minimum of 1 year from those who do.

Some may argue we need more blood donors and the ban is discriminatory but considering the benefits and risks involved. Is it really worth it?

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