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New one year blood ban now in place

Mon 15 Dec 2014 In: New Zealand Daily News View at Wayback View at NDHA

File Photo The new 12 month stand down period for gay and bisexual men who want to give blood comes into effect today, after being approved by Medsafe. It means men who haven’t anal or oral sex with another man in a year can donate. The ban period was dropped from five years to 12 months at the recommendation of team which carried out a review for the New Zealand Blood Service. The group cited the fact Australia’s twelve month stand-down for the past ten years, with no evidence of HIV transmission, in its reasons for the change. It said advances in donation testing and handling mean errors have now been virtually eliminated from the system, and the biggest risk of HIV entering the blood supply is during the very early ‘window period’ when it can’t yet be reliably detected. The review group said there had also apparently been a high level of compliance with the five year ban among gay and bi men. While it also considered a six month deferral period, this was dismissed “largely on the basis that there is no evidence of how it will work in practice, nor evidence from modelling, and there is less margin for error in misjudging time since last sexual contact.” The group also rejected a risk based assessment of actual sexual behaviour, as no research has been published in the area, and it would also mean gay and bi men would be hit with invasive in-depth questions about their sex lives. The New Zealand Blood Service says it’s confident that the change is based on good clinical evidence. The New Zealand AIDS Foundation has supported the move, saying the safety of the blood supply is paramount - and the scientific evidence suggests a 12 month deferral period is appropriate. Lobby group Rainbow Wellington does not believe it goes far enough, maintaining decisions on whether gay and bisexual men can donate blood should be based on individual risk assessments.    

Credit: Daily News staff

First published: Monday, 15th December 2014 - 9:32am

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