Screen the Blood – Not The Sexuality
We urge governments worldwide to make blood donation restrictions contingent on a person’s sexual behaviour, not on their sexual orientation.
Screen the Blood is an initiative from the Peter Tatchell Foundation, aiming to raise awareness and take action on the blood donor restrictions affecting sexually active gay and bisexual men globally.
Blood donation policies in many countries restrict gay and bisexual men from donating blood, even if they practice safe sex in a monogamous relationship.
These restrictions are currently enforced by over forty countries. Some implement an outright lifetime ban, while others require men who’ve had sex with men to observe 3 months to 5 years of sexual abstinence before they can donate blood.
When these restrictions were first introduced in the 1980’s, it was an emergency response to the HIV pandemic and its high incidence among gay and bisexual men in western countries.
However, things have changed since then. Not only do heterosexual people make up a majority of HIV cases worldwide, but modern HIV testing methods are now very accurate.
A UCLA study from 2014 showed that lifting the donor restrictions in the USA would increase the blood supply by 2-4%, which would dramatically boost the amount of blood available to patients in need.
If the 40+ countries lifted the blanket restrictions and assessed donors based on their sexual behaviour, regardless of sexual orientation, they would help stop the HIV stigma around gay and bisexual men – and also increase the blood supply on a global scale, to the benefit of health services and patients worldwide.
This is why we want every country to screen the blood, not the sexuality.