To Australia’s health ministers, the Therapeutic Goods Administration, the National Blood Authority and the Red Cross Lifeblood Service,
We are Australian health professionals who want the blood supply to be safe, more abundant and less discriminatory.
We support a policy that screens potential blood donors for their individual risk, not the gender of their sexual partner.
We believe the current ban on blood donation by sexually-active gay and bisexual men, and transgender people, reduces the amount of blood available without making the blood supply safer.
A better policy would be to focus on activity that actually creates risk and to screen potential donors for that risk, regardless of sexuality or gender identity.
Recent research shows allowing gay blood donation does not compromise blood safety and infection through transfusion may go down if screening focuses on sexual risk instead (Blanco et al 2020).
It also shows a majority of gay and bisexual men would donate if they could (Clackett et al 2020).
We acknowledge the recent reduction of the deferral period for gay and transgender people from twelve months to three.
But this is unlikely to substantially increase the blood supply, and it will not remove stigma experience by those unnecessarily barred from donation.
The Covid-19 pandemic makes it more important than ever to have a sufficient and secure the blood supply.
We believe the new donor screening policy outlined above will meet this goal.
Nurses and other medical professionals sign below. Doctors can sign here.