Blood: Iceland next?

Iceland seems set to join the wave of nations revoking their bans on bi and gay men donating blood. Local website reported yesterday that the Health Minister expects to make an announcement in the near future.

This seems to be prompted by both changes in other countries and the shifting balance of route of transmission in HIV infections. The Department of Health’s website cites the following statistics:

Figures from Chief Epidemiologist, Department of Health, Iceland: Distribution of HIV infected cases according to transmission categories as of 31 December 2017
Transmission category Males Females Total %
1. Homosexual / bisexual males 150 0 150 39
2. Injection drug users 56 21 77 20
3. Heterosexual contacts 72 76 148 38
4. Transfusion recipients 0 5 5 1
5. Mother to child 0 1 1 0
6. Other / undetermined 4 4 8 2


Many countries banned bi and gay men from donating blood in the 1980s, in response to HIV.

Back in the 80s, with a lack of reliable tests let alone medications or vaccine it was a short-term fix in the interests of wider health that wound up staying in place for over 20 years. Wales, Scotland and England have slowly unpicked the ban here in stages since 2011.

The announcement comes days after plans to reform a blood donation ban were announced by Denmark.