Celibate SA gay men permitted to donate blood

Troy Espera | October 03, 2006

CAPE TOWN — Gay men in South Africa who have been celibate for six months will be permitted to donate blood starting November 1.

According to The Citizen, the SANBS said this was one of the changes in a more streamlined questionnaire for blood donors, the SABC reported on Sunday.

The new self-exclusion questionnaire on risk behavior and HIV/AIDS states that gay men will be able to donate blood if they have not been sexually active in the six months before wanting to donate.

The Citizen reports that the questionnaire also looks at heterosexual people�s sexual behavior to determine which individuals run the risk of carrying the HI Virus in their blood.

According to The Star, the questionnaire asks of individuals if they have had �sexual activity, with or without a condom, with more than one partner, had casual sex or had sex with someone whose sexual background (they) do not know� in the six months before wanting to give blood.

It then goes on to ask male donors if they have had anal sex with another man in the preceding six months. In January the SANBS announced its plan to reword the questionnaire that potential blood donors are required to fill out to make the forms more "gender sensitive", South African-oriented and less objectionable to the gay community.

SANBS spokesperson Dr Sam Gulube told The Star the delay was because of logistical reasons.

It was the phrase "male-to-male sex,� anal and oral performed with or without protection, which caused a furor on the existing form.

If the form was reworded to say "anal and oral sex", it would apply to heterosexuals too, SANBS spokesperson Ianthe Exall told The Star.

Glenn de Swardt of the Triangle Project, the oldest gay organization in Africa, said to The Star that AIDS was a heterosexually driven pandemic on the continent. But the medical standards employed by the blood centers to exclude gay men were based on statistics from countries where AIDS was a homosexually driven pandemic.

"Anal sex is high-risk activity. Not all homosexual men engage in anal sex and lots of heterosexuals do," he said to The Star. – Issued by Gay Link Content

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



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