Australian Associated Press (05.24.12) - Thursday, May 24,
A proposed one-year study would assess whether gay men who are
sexually abstinent for six months could safely donate blood in
Australia. The trial, recommended by independent experts for
the Australian Red Cross Blood Service in a recently released
report, would involve about 100,000 donors and be conducted by
ARCBS and the Kirby Institute for Infection.
Currently, gay male donors must have been sexually abstinent
for one year when they present to donate blood, said Kathy
Bowlen, an ARCBS spokesperson. The deferral is due to the fact
that gay men have the highest number of new HIV infections,
she said. Though gay activists have fought the one-year wait,
"It has never been found to be discriminatory because we're
required to rule people out on the basis of risk," she said.
A quarter of blood donors between 2005 and 2010 who tested
positive for transmittable infections had not disclosed risk
factors that would have made them ineligible. New tattoos and
travel to areas with malaria were among the many risks donors
did not mention, Bowlen said.
"It could be that people forget certain timelines or instances
... we're asking people to remember specific things relating
to exposure," said Bowlen.
During its review of deferral practices, the trial would weigh
the accuracy of information provided by potential donors. The
report will be evaluated by the Therapeutic Goods
Administration and relevant state and federal blood-
regulators, Bowlen said.