Direct questions like "Have you ever had any sexual intercourse with someone from your same sex? The Red Cross will re-submit their application to reduce the deferral period to six months in The donation is allowed if the donor hasn't had a risky sexual encounter, but not depending on the sexual orientation of the donor.
However this does not apply to Northern Ireland, which still has a 12 month deferral period in place. This policy came into effect from 16 January He claims this is in breach of EU law. He said that both failed to consider the length of time between a donor's last sexual experience and the end of a "window period" in which infections are sometimes not detected. Heneghan's previous sexual activity posed no risk of infection, according to HSE-approved advice and he said the service had no evidence upon which it could legitimately impose a life-long ban on him donating blood.
Following several adjournments of the case to allow the blood service and Department of Health to examine and develop the donation policies, in late June the Irish Blood Transfusion Service recommended that the lifetime ban on MSM be reduced to a 12 month ban. Later that week the Minister for Health Simon Harris agreed to the recommendations and announced the reduction would take place.
However no timeline was reported for the implementation of the new policies. However he also criticised the new 12 month deferral policy on MSM and called on Ireland's Health Minister to initiate a review of the IBTS and replace the 12 month deferral period for MSM with no deferral or a 3 month deferral on all donors following sexual intercourse.
In June , it was concluded that the ban was not unlawful in Finland as it is based on "appropriately reasoned epidemiological information" and because it is related to sexual behaviour rather than sexual orientation.
The ombudsman added that people over the age of 65 and people who lived in Britain during the bovine spongiform encephalopathy mad cow disease outbreak are also screened out during blood donor interviews. In December , the Finnish Red Cross blood service announced it was lifting the ban and introducing a one-year deferral instead.
Since 10 July , France implemented a 1-year deferral period policy on all gay and bisexual men donating blood. From the formation of the NZBS in to , the deferral period had been ten years, but reduced to five years following an independent review of blood donation criteria in which found no significant difference in risk to the blood supply for deferral periods of five years compared to ten years.
The new 1 year deferral has been in effect since 15 December Females who engage in sexual intercourse with a male who has had sex with another male are also deferred for twelve months.
This has been so since December This is the same policy used for any sexual partner of someone in a high risk group. The policy was first put in place in by the FDA, which regulates blood donations to profit and non-profit organizations. The AABB has suggested making this change since The FDA did not accept the proposal and had concerns about the data used to produce the model, citing that additional risk to recipients was not justified.
Given the constant need for blood, it does not make common sense to prohibit donations from an entire population. Moll-Vigrass, who is openly gay and had been in a committed relationship for four years, was refused as a blood donor after disclosing his sexual orientation during the questionnaire screening process. Outraged by the federal policy and disappointed by being refused as a blood donor, Moll-Vigrass started to advocate for change.
Food and Drug Administration changed the policy by replacing the indefinite deferral with a 1-year deferral. Food and Drug Administration approved of a new blood donor history questionnaire for general use by blood establishments, which is compatible with the deferral for 12 months. As of December , the American Red Cross reports that MSM may be eligible to donate blood if they did not have sex with another man in more than 12 months.
The American Red Cross reports that, in January , the organization began donor reinstatement of MSM who were previously deferred from donating, and who later became qualified to donate blood in accordance with the new donation deferral period of 12 months.
This is achieved by screening potential donors for high risk behaviors through questionnaires and interviews before blood is taken, and subsequent laboratory testing on samples of donated blood. In the earliest years of the AIDS epidemic, there were no reliable tests for the virus, which justified blanket bans on blood donations from groups at high risk of acquiring or having HIV, including MSM. These restrictions are similar to present-day restrictions in most countries on people residing in the United Kingdom during the BSE "mad cow disease" epidemic of the s and early-to-mid s, due to the absence of a test for its human form, variant Creutzfeldt—Jakob disease vCJD.
In , early tests using the ELISA method looked for antibodies, which are the immune system's response to the virus. However, there is a window period when using this method in which a person who has been infected with HIV is able to spread the disease but may test negative for the virus. This window period can be as long as three to six months,  with an average of 22 days.
In developing countries, these tests are often the only method used to screen donated blood for HIV. To cover the window period resultant from the use of these tests, donors are also screened for high risk behaviors, one of which is a history of same-sex sexual activity among male potential donors.
Other groups with similar restrictions include commercial sex workers, injecting drug users, and people resident in countries with a high HIV prevalence such as sub-Saharan Africa. Newer tests look for the virus itself, such as the p24 antigen test, which looks for a part on the surface of the virus, and Nucleic acid tests NAT , which look for the genetic material of the virus.
With these tests, the window period is shorter, with an average duration of 12 days. Risks are also associated with a non-MSM donors testing positive for HIV, which can have major implications as the donor's last donation could have been given within the window period for testing and could have entered the blood supply, potentially infecting blood product recipients.
An incident in in New Zealand saw a non-MSM donor testing positive for HIV and subsequently all blood products made with the donor's last blood donation had to be recalled. Criticism of the restrictions[ edit ] Objections to the restrictions, including those from the American Medical Association  and the American Red Cross, are generally based on the idea that improvements in testing and other safeguards have reduced the risk from transfusion transmitted HIV to an acceptable level.
Blood shortages are common, and advocates for change to the policies point out that excluding healthy donors only makes the problem worse.