Donating Gay Blood

Gay and Lesbian people donating blood in South Africa

20th May 2014 – South Africa

In the past, gay men or men who have sex with men (MSM) were seen as being at high risk of being infected with HIV and could only donate blood to the South African National Blood Service (SANBS) if they had been celibate for six months or longer.

The policy was widely criticised as discriminatory because, unlike in Western countries, the HIV epidemic in South Africa is a primarily heterosexual one. The policy was also perceived to unfairly target gay men while allowing heterosexual people who engaged in equally risky or casual sex to donate.

Anyone who has a new sexual partner will not be allowed to donate blood for six months, and that anyone who has multiple partners will not be allowed to donate blood. Both criteria are irrespective of a person’s sexual orientation.

“This policy would apply to me, for example, who’s just started dating someone new,” Raju added. “But people who are in monogamous male same-sex relationships [for more than six months] can now donate.”