France will end its lifetime ban on
blood donations from men who have sex with men.
“Giving blood is an act of
generosity, of citizenship, which cannot be conditioned to sexual
orientation,” said Marisol Touraine, the French health minister.
“While respecting complete patient safety, today we are ending a
taboo and discrimination.”
France introduced its ban in 1983 amid
the AIDS crisis.
Under the new policy, gay men in a
monogamous relationship or who have not had sex with another man in
the preceding four months will be allowed to donate plasma.
“The plasma supply chain will allow
the freezing of blood donations, so that donors can be tested again,
once the window has passed for HIV antibodies to appear,” Touraine
French rights group SOS Homophobie said
that the new policy did not go far enough, noting that there is no
prerequisite for abstention for heterosexuals.
“This does not end the stigmatization
of gay and bisexual men,” the group said in a statement.
In the United States, the FDA prohibits
men who have sex with men from donating blood unless they have been
celibate for one year.