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(http://www.metro.co.uk/news/874826-controversial-ban-on-gay-blood-donors-lifted-in-the-uk)
ADVOCATES SAY PROPOSED CHANGE IN GAY BLOOD DONOR RULES "WILL MAKE NO DIFFERENCE"

in AUSTRALIA, 25/05/2012

Advocates say reducing the period gay men have to abstain from sex before they can give blood from 12 months to 6 will mean the overwhelming majority of gay men with safe blood will still be excluded from donating.

Today the Australian Red Cross Blood Service released the results of a review it commissioned into the issue which recommends the deferral period for men who have sex with men - the period they must wait between their last sexual activity and giving blood - be reduced from a year to 6 months.

But the man whose Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination case against the gay blood ban sparked the review, Michael Cain, said the change will make no difference.

"Like most gay men I will still not be able to donate under the proposed policy, even though I have a far, far lower risk of catching HIV than many heterosexual people who can currently donate", Mr Cain said.

"The only way to remove discrimination from blood donation and increase the pool of safe blood from donors such as myself is to adopt a policy which screens all donors for the safety of their sexual activity rather than the gender of their partner."

"The review's recommendations are not a step forward and leave me feeling really frustrated that the focus continues to be on my partner's gender rather than how safe we are."

Tasmanian gay rights advocate, Rodney Croome, who was a researcher on Mr Cain's case, said the review is flawed because it draws data about rates of HIV among gay men from studies done in sex venues and bars.

"Experts who appeared in Michael Cain's case made it clear that the data upon which the current ban is based only takes into account people with high HIV risk and ignores the vast bulk of gay men who are at much lower risk."

"It's extremely disappointing that the review has replicated this
mistake."

"The only way to resolve this issue is for the Government to commission a truly independent review."

For a copy of the review go to: http://www.transfusion.com.au/sites/default/files/Blood%20Review%20Report.pdf

For more information contact Michael Cain on 0400 734 798 or Rodney Croome on 0409 010 668.

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