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Switzerland lifts lifetime ban on gay men giving blood

January 31, 2017
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Switzerland is lifting a lifetime ban on gay men donating blood – as long as they are celibate for 12 months.

Currently all men who have ever had sex with another man are barred from donating.

However, Swissmedic, the medical watchdog for the country now agrees improvements in HIV and Aids detection mean a total ban is unnecessary and the new rules will kick in on July 1.

Speaking to Le Matin, Swiss Transfusion, part of the country’s Red Cross, said while the move was welcome, it was “far from perfect”.

Director Rudolf Schwabe added: “Secondly, it should be based on actual personal behaviour and not on sexual orientation.”

The central European country had brought in the blanket ban in the 80s, citing efforts to stop the spread of Aids.

Under the new rules men who haven’t had sex with another man for 12 months will now be able to donate.

The medical watchdog must also draw up risk assessments for the policy, as well as produce annual reports.

The changes follow softening rules across the globe, with FranceThe Netherlands and South Africa all making changes in the past few years.

Earlier this year Ireland also softened rules on gay men giving blood, with the United Kingdom lifting its total ban in 2011.

Northern Ireland came into line with the rest of the country in 2016.

Similarly to Switzerland, men in the UK who have sex with other men can only give blood after 12 months has passed.

A report following the changes in Britain found that blood was actually safer since the policy change, with blood samples screened more regularly for any problems.

The Department of Health added: “Surveillance data derived from the tests carried out on every blood donation in England, Scotland and Wales since the policy change show that there fewer infections are being detected in donated blood”.

The Government also previously announced a review of the 12 month waiting period.

Related topics: blood ban, Europe, giving blood, Switzerland

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