Costa Rica Lifts Ban on Gay Blood Donations

Dylan Vox | August 13, 2007

SAN JOSE — The United States is still under the antiquated rule that gay men are not allowed to donate blood because of the risk of spreading infectious disease. This month, Costa Rica showed that they might be a few steps ahead of us as President Oscar Arias signed an executive order to lift their ban.

Earlier this year, despite a recommendation from the American Red Cross and other blood sources, the FDA refused to lift the American ban on blood donations from gay people. The Red Cross has criticized the policy as "medically and scientifically unwarranted," but the US Government felt that the risk of introducing HIV and AIDS into the blood supply was still too much of a risk to recall the lifetime ban.

Activist Alberto Cabezas, who led the drive to lift the ban in Costa Rica, saw his work come to fruition this month when Arias signed the order which would again allow gays to donate blood. Cabezas said that the action proved that the government "sees gays as humans [who] have the same rights" as others.

Since the first out break of HIV in the 70's, many countries have banned blood donations from men who have had sex with other men. Even though any group is at risk, and in some cases more at risk than homosexuals, the ban on gays has become commonplace. Gay rights groups have fought to lift the US ban stating that the practice was discriminatory.

Gay rights advocate Peter Tatchell explained that the ban on gay blood donors "is based on the assumption that all homosexual and bisexual men are 'high risk' for HIV," and that the "policy seems to reflect homophobic prejudices, not medical facts."

The hope is that Costa Rica will set a precedent for other countries to follow. – Issued by Gay Link Content

Related stories
Press release regarding blood donation by the SA Joint Working Group



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