Despite being one of the more socially liberal countries, Iceland still has a ban on gay men donating blood.

One of the chief epidemiologists in Iceland has urged the government to lift the ban on gay and bisexual men from donating blood. There is currently a total ban on men who have sex with men (MSM) from donating blood.

The Reykjavik Grapevine reports Þórólfur Guðnason as saying: “‘First of all, in this group, there is an increased chance that their blood could be carrying HIV or hepatitis C.

“There are individuals in this group who are practicing safe sex, and are therefore not at risk, while there are others, with a more liberal sex life, who are more likely to spread these kinds of infections.”

He added: “I believe that given what other people in Europe have done, we can leave behind a total ban and move on to having an abstinence period of some months.”

Last year, Iceland made hints that the ban on MSM from donating blood could soon be coming to an end. The original reasoning behind the ban was to stop HIV from spreading, and at the time it was mainly gay men who had the disease.

However, since the original ban, those figures have now roughly equalled out, with 150 cases for MSM and 148 for straight people.

Last year, it was announced that Denmark would be lifting its ban on MSM from donating blood at some point in 2019, provided that they have been celibate for four months. Men who are in relationships will be allowed to donate regardless.

Speaking to the CPH Online, Danish Health Minister Ellen Trane Nørby said: “The authority [patient safety] has found a model we feel is safe and we will therefore incorporate it into Denmark.

“All safety mechanisms in our blood donation system are built on trust and we have some very advanced tests that screen the blood.”