“The current policy of excluding all sexually-active gay men from blood donation limits the amount of safe blood available to those in need, and stigmatises gay men as a threat to public health.” – Ben Dudman
A young Tasmanian gay man has written to the leaders of all three political parties calling for a new blood donation policy after he discovered he is barred from giving blood.
Ben Dudman says the policy is outdated, limits the supply of safe blood and fosters stigma against gay men.
“It is absurd that I can’t give blood despite practising safe sex, whereas heterosexual people who don’t have safe sex can donate”, Mr Dudman said.
“The current policy of excluding all sexually-active gay men from blood donation limits the amount of safe blood available to those in need, and stigmatises gay men as a threat to public health.”
“The current exclusion is a throwback to a time almost forty years ago when HIV was much less well understood, and myths about gay men all being promiscuous and irresponsible were more widely held.”
“Since then blood testing has improved immensely, rates of HIV infection among gay man have decreased, and Australians have shown they support inclusion and equality for LGBTIQ+ people.”*
“It’s time for a new blood donation policy that screens potential donors for the safety of the sexual activity, not the gender of their sexual partners.”
Currently, gay or bisexual men can only donate blood if they have not had male-to-male sex (including with a condom) within the last 12 months. This is despite HIV being detectable in donated blood through a simple test.
In 2008, the Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Tribunal heard a case from Michael Cain alleging the deferral period was discriminatory. The Tribunal found that ongoing scrutiny of the deferral policy was required, however, according to Mr Dudman, it appears that such scrutiny hasn’t occurred.
“I call upon the Australian Red Cross Society to review its policy position in light of modern medical advances, so that blood donations can remain safe, while also removing discrimination towards gay and bisexual men.”
“I have written to Prime Minister Morrison, Bill Shorten, and Richard Di Natale calling on all three major parties to commit to a policy review in this area prior to the next federal election”, Mr Dudman said.
“My blood is safe. Let’s use it to save lives. Let me donate by blood.”
*Evidence of a decrease in HIV rates among gay men can be found here: https://data.kirby.unsw.edu.au/hiv
Download a copy of Mr Dudman’s letter to the Red Cross and his letter to the Prime Minister (identical to letters to Bill Shorten and Richard di Natale) here …
Download copy of letter to RCS …