South Africa backs gay blood donors – if celibate

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

A compromise has been reached between the South African Blood Service and gay pressure groups over donations.

Previously all gay men who had sex with another man in the last five years were barred from giving blood.

Gay activists had argued this rule was discriminatory, and drew attention to previous restrictions by the service on the grounds of race.

Under new guidelines, due to come into force in October, gay men will be allowed to give blood, as long as they have been celibate for six months.

SABS have opted to exclude sexually active gay men until their research into prevalence of HIV in the South African gay community is completed.

In March, reported that the American Red Cross is lobbying the US government to lift the Department of Health and Human Services’ ban on gay blood donors.

The UK National Blood Service continues to bar gay men from donating blood, arguing that risk prevention and not prejudice is behind their stance.