Previously, gay men weren’t allowed to donate unless they had been celibate for six months, due to the perceived risk of HIV – which some perceived as unfair, as heterosexual people who indulged in unsafe sex didn’t face any restrictions.
As quoted in International Business Times, Vanessa Raju, SANBS Communications Manager, said that the older policy was flawed.
“The policy wasn’t meant to be discriminatory, but it was seen as such,” she admitted. “We then worked closely with the Department of Health and other organisations to reassess the situation.”
However, things still aren’t easy for homosexual men wanting to donate – gay men who are in new relationships (less than six months) still can’t donate, but men who have been in monogamous relations for six months can.
South Africa is leading the way when it comes to gay men donating blood – in England, Scotland and Wales, gay men can’t give blood for 12 months after having sex with another man. In Northern Ireland, homosexual men who have sex are banned altogether from donating blood.
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