Sweden reviewing gay blood ban

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

Sweden is considering lifting its ban on gay blood donors, according to reports.

Gay men are considered a high risk group in most countries such as the UK, USA as well as Sweden, and therefore prohibited from donating blood.

But Sweden’s National Board of Health and Welfare today announced they would be reviewing the rule, introduced to prevent the spread of HIV, later this year.

Anders Tegnell, head of the unit for infectious disease prevention, told Sweden’s English paper The Local: “I can confirm that we are reviewing the rule, but I cannot confirm the outcome yet.”

The review will consider how to define what constitutes sex between men and what makes it high risk, Mr Tegnell said: “The general thinking now is to be consistent, and any kind of people whose behaviour is risky have to be in quarantine. So we look at gay men in the same way as we look at people who have been to areas with high HIV rates, such as South America.”

He added, “There is no such thing as the right to give blood. The only consideration is whether the blood supply is safe.”

Sweden’s health minister Ylva Johansson welcomed a review of the ban, she said: “It is unfortunate to define homosexual men in general as a risk group.”

The issue of banning gay blood donors has drawn protest in the USA and UK, unlike in Spain and Italy where there is no such ban and in Australia where gay men must have not had sex in the last year to be applicable.