The Sanquin Blood Bank is once again accepting gay and bisexual men as blood donors, provided they have had sex with only one partner in the past 12 months.
Until now, homosexuals had to abstain from sex for four months before they could donate blood or blood plasma. Sanquin introduced the rule because of the higher risk of blood-borne infections such as hepatitis and HIV.
Sanquin has been criticized by gay rights organization COC, which said the rule was discriminatory. The organization argued that sexual behavior, rather than sexual preference, was the deciding factor.
After studying the research, Sanquin has now decided that he can include gay and bisexual men without compromising the safety of blood and plasma stocks. He expects some 100 to 500 additional donors to come forward.
Sanquin spokeswoman Marloes Metaal told broadcaster NOS that the blood bank had already relaxed the rules for gay people over the years “from a total ban to 12, then four months after last sexual contact.” , now that blood infections can be detected earlier.
“We are moving from a group approach to an individual risk assessment,” she said. “We want uncontaminated blood, but we don’t want to exclude people unnecessarily.”
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