Following a lengthy, decade long campaign, Argentina have lifted their ban on blood donations from gay and bisexual men this week.
Health Minister Daniel Gollán said at a signing ceremony this week that the change was “scientifically and technically accurate” and went to say that it is based on “a medical approach that replaces that old concept of ‘risk groups.'”
This means that Argentina will now “move toward a national blood system that is safe, caring and inclusive”.
The number of countries that have abolished similar blood bans is dishearteningly small, but it is growing. These include Chile, Mexico, Spain and Italy, where blood donors are assessed on individual risk rather than their sexual orientation.
Naturally, this decision has been met with praise from LGBT groups, who have fought long and hard for their government to lift the bans.
President of the Argentine Federation of Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transgender, Esteban Paulon, had this to say: “It is a great joy to be able to take this step toward equality and non-discrimination in one of the last realms that explicitly excluded us from the full enjoyment of our rights.”
At the moment, blood donation bans for gay or bisexual men are in place in 50 countries, including here in the UK and the US. As is fairly common knowledge now, these bans came into place due to the AIDS epidemic, amid fear and lack of understanding of the virus. HIV testing is done as mandatory on all blood donations in the UK, (alongside a few other tests, which you can read about here) and the US (find out more, here), and since HIV tests have become increasingly accurate, the bans have fallen under criticism.
However, talks have begun in several countries to possibly reverse the policies, including the US, France, Germany and Belgium.
You may recall that the FDA proposed lifting the ban in the US, but it came with a huge caveat which many criticised. Namely, that gay or bisexual men would be able to donate blood, but only if they have abstained from sex for a year.
There has also been a campaign here in the UK, the Freedom to Donate campaign, which also called for a lifting of the blood donation ban on gay and bisexual men.
Naturally, eyes are now on the FDA and the NHS to reconsider their positions on blood donations.
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