Switzerland join in blood reform

Switzerland is to allow bi and gay men to donate blood – but only if they’ve not had sex with another man for twelve months.

Like many countries, when HIV first hit the headlines in the 1980s a complete ban on blood donation by men who have had sex with men was instituted – in the Swiss case with a “since 1977” clause exempting some older bi and gay men who had not had sex with other men since that time.

It was an emergency measure when the transmission of HIV was far less well understood and science, as well as treatment, has moved on significantly.

The move follows similar changes for the blood donation services in Britain (but not Northern Ireland), the USA, and many others. Reports from Switzerland do not make clear how the ban affects the female partners of bi men – in the UK they are subject to a longer ban than that applying to their partners.

Switzerland’s new rule will come into effect from 1st July.