Blood ban reform: France next?
Hot on the heels of The Netherlands, France too has decided that the country’s lifetime ban on men who have sex with men donating blood should be ended.
A similar move was made in Britain four years ago, though Northern Ireland retains a lifetime ban as policy on the matter is devolved to the Stormont Assembly and Democratic Unionist Party members have blocked repeal.
Reform of the blood ban was part of President Hollande’s election platform. Social Affairs and Health Minister Marisol Touraine announced that as “giving blood is an act of generosity, of civic responsibility, the donor’s sexual orientation cannot be a condition. While respecting patient safety, today we are lifting a taboo.”
The change will not be a complete and immediate repeal of the ban. Initially donations will only be taken from men who have not had sex with another man in the past 12 months – meaning the change will probably open up the chance of donation more to bi men than gay men. The French plan involves this then rolling forward to reduce the 12 month limit, with a likely end point of donations being accepted from men who have only had sex with one other man in the previous four months.
Around the world rates of blood donation have fallen in recent years, with the UK reporting a 40% drop in donor numbers in the past decade.