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Ban on gay men giving blood in Switzerland set to be lifted

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Ban on gay men giving blood in Switzerland set to be lifted
File photo: AFP
11:24 CEST+02:00
Men who have had sex with other men should not automatically be barred from giving blood, the organization charged with securing Switzerland’s blood supply has said in a statement.

Swiss Tranfusion SRC would like to see new, more flexible rules introduced, the group, which is part of Swiss Red Cross, said on Tuesday.

Those new rules would see people registering to give blood divided into four risk groups based on their personal sexual activity regardless of whether they are homosexual or heterosexual. The proposed rule changes - which need final sign off by the medical watchdog Swiss medic – come in the wake of a similar relaxing of rules in countries including the US, France and Japan.

Under the new Swiss regime, men who have had sex with other men would be allowed to give blood from January 2017 on provided they have been celibate in the previous 12 months.

Currently, all men in Switzerland who have had sex with another man since 1977 are barred from donating blood – a rule that was brought in in the 1980s to stop the spread of Aids. However, medical groups argue that the presence of new diagnostic tools which allow for the detection of HIV/Aids in a matter of days, make a total ban unnecessary.

Switzerland’s new blood donation rules are expected to come into full force in 2018.

Pink Cross, Switzerland’s largest LGBT group, welcomed the move saying it was “an important first step”.

The issue of men who have had sex with other men giving blood has been in the news recently after gay rights groups in the United States complained they were unable to help in the wake of a shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando.

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