Gay and bisexual men in Israel will soon be able to donate blood

“This is good news for the community because it will lead to expanding the pool of blood donations and, as such, will save lives.”

Israel has now lifted the ban that prohibited gay and bisexual men to donate blood based on the last time they had sex.

The new policy has been developed by the Israeli Health Ministry, lawmaker Merav Ben Ari, and Magen David Adom (MDA), the Israeli equipment of the Red Cross.

However, it has been reported that the process will be slightly complex. Patients will have their blood checked for infectious diseases, and will have to wait four months while their plasma is separated and frozen.

Donors will then have to donate a second time, and if the results for HIV – and other diseases – comes back as negative, then their blood will be authorised for use.

Ben Ari – chair of Aguda, Israel’s leading LGBTQ organisation – said: “For years there was this frustrating situation where members of the LGBT community couldn’t donate blood and when they did, they had to deny their sexual preference.

“This is good news for the community because it will lead to expanding the pool of blood donations and, as such, will save lives.”

Eilat Shinar – director of blood services at MDA – added: “We want more people to donate and at the same time we must preserve the safety of the blood units.”

In the United States – and many other countries – if you’re a man who has sex with men (MSM), you cannot donate blood unless you’ve abstained from sex for at least 12 months.

“All US blood collection organisations must follow this federal requirement,” say the American Red Cross under the LGBTQ guidelines section of their website.

However, last year, the deferral period for gay and bisexual men in England, Scotland and Wales was reduced from 12 months to three months.

All MSM – as well as sex workers – can donate more quickly, as new and improved NHS testing measures can establish whether someone has a virus such as HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, or syphilis within three months.

“We’re pleased the Government recognises there is still more to be done to ensure all lesbian, gay, bi and trans people are accepted without exception,” said Stonewall’s CEO Ruth Hunt.

Scott Cuthbertson, Development Manager at Scottish LGBT+ charity the Equality Network, said: “We welcome that more gay and bisexual men will be eligible to donate blood from today.

“We hope many gay and bisexual men who are now able to donate, do so with their peers.

“These new rules are a welcome and significant step forward, we remain concerned, however, that for too many low risk gay and bisexual men these new rules are, in effect, a continued ban.”

Related: Gay and bi men want to donate blood to help Vegas victims, but they can’t.

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