Gay men can finally give blood in France after a 30-year ban – but there’s a catch.
Shortly after the HIV virus was discovered in 1983, a complete ban on gay men donating blood in France was adopted. But just a few days ago on July 11, the official French blood bank website’s terms for giving blood were updated.
The site notes: “Blood donation is now possible for men who have or have had sexual intercourse with another man”.
Great news, but it’s not that simple. Lifting the ban comes with some conditions which have already been widely criticised.
For gay men who want to donate, they must abstain from sex for a full year ‘after their last sexual intercourse with a man’ in order to give a blood donation, according to the new legislation.
There will also be a four-month deferral period for plasma donations, meaning gay and bisexual men must abstain from sex if they wish to donate, the Evening Standard reports.
Heterosexuals are questioned about their recent sexual history, but only a change in partner over the past four months will pose a problem.
And a loophole for women who only have sex with women means the 12 month deferral does not apply to them. One of the questions, “in the past four months, have you had more than one sexual partner,” comes with an asterisk which adds that the question does not apply to women who have had ‘intercourse exclusively between women.’
Back in 2002, a statement was issued explaining that the blood donation exclusion no longer applied to ‘a homosexual or bisexual person’, but for those who’d had ‘homosexual relations with a man. Basically, the ban on homosexual woman giving blood was lifted fourteen years ago.
Currently, in England, Scotland and Wales, gay and bisexual men are banned from giving blood unless they abstain from sex for 12 months. The same rule applies to women who have sex with bisexual men.
Despite the 12 month deferral, however, the ban being lifted is progress in itself.