French blood donation ban for gay men to be lifted ‘in coming months’

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The ban on the donation of blood by men who have sex with men in France is due to be lifted ‘in the coming months’.

Minister of Health and Social Affairs Marisol Touraine announced the move as she gave blood on World Blood Donation Day yesterday.

She told Reuters: “The criterion [for donation] cannot be the nature of sexual relations or sexual orientation.

“The only criterion is that of risk, and on that point we will ensure that men who have sex with men are able to give blood because that is not, in itself, a risk factor.”

She added that the move would be made “in the coming months”.

Reuters in France reported that Ms Touraine’s predecessors had vowed to open blood donation to men who have sex with men, previously barred due to the higher prevalence of HIV among the group, but had not acted to do so.

Ms Touraine denied that sexual orientation itself was a risk factor, saying: “Simply, there is no population at risk because of their sexual orientation.”

Following the election of Francois Hollande as president of France, Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault recently announced that equal marriage and adoption laws for the country’s gay community would be implemented “quickly”.

The lifetime blood donation ban on men who had ever had sex with a man was lifted for England, Wales and Scotland in November last year.

The Department of Health implemented a one-year deferral period instead, so that men who have had gay sex in the last 12 months may still not donate blood.